Title:
Universal telescoping soffit hanger
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A telescoping hanger for supporting an item, such as a plant, decoration, bird feeder or the like, beneath a soffit has first and second opposed ends and a plurality of holes spaced therealong. A safety pin is used to engage the holes to fix the telescoping member at a desired length so that the first and second ends remain mounted to the soffit. One or both of the hanger ends includes a hook for enhanced secure engagement with the soffit. The hook may include a flat portion to allow for limited longitudinal adjustment of the telescoping hanger relative to the soffit while remaining engaged therewith. A clip also engages the holes, and is used to support the item on the hanger. The clip has opposed finger engaging portions, a ring portion operatively connected to the finger engaging portions for biasing the ends of the finger engaging portions into the holes. The clip ends may be angled to enhance engagement with the holes.



Inventors:
Filazek, Greg (Calgary, CA)
Filazek, Karen (Calgary, CA)
Application Number:
10/884994
Publication Date:
01/13/2005
Filing Date:
07/07/2004
Assignee:
FILAZEK GREG
FILAZEK KAREN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G7/04; E04D13/15; F16M13/02; (IPC1-7): E04D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARTOSIK, ANTHONY N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS E. MALYSZKO (CALGARY, AB, CA)
Claims:
1. A device for supporting an item beneath a soffit comprising: a telescoping member having first and second opposed ends and attachment means therealong; means for fixing said telescoping member at a desired length so that said first and second ends remain mounted to said soffit; and, a clip for engaging said attachment means and from which said item may be carried.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said attachment means comprises a plurality of holes spaced along said telescoping member.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said fixing means comprises a locking is member for engaging said attachment means.

4. The device of claim 2 wherein said fixing means comprises a safety pin for engaging said holes.

5. The device of claim 4 wherein said safety pin comprises one of a cotter pin and said clip.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein said clip comprises opposed finger engaging portions, a ring portion operatively connected to said finger engaging portions for biasing the ends of said finger engaging portions into engagement with said attachment means.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein said ends are angled to enhance said engagement with said attachment means.

8. The device of claim 1 wherein at least one of said first and second ends of said telescoping member includes hook means for enhanced secure engagement with said soffit.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein said hook means includes a flat portion to allow for limited longitudinal adjustment of the telescoping member relative to said soffit while remaining engaged therewith.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein said telescoping member comprises a first soffit tube, a second hollow soffit tube adapted to slidingly receive said first soffit tube therewithin, wherein each of said first and second soffit tubes has a plurality of diametrically opposed holes spaced along for receiving said clip.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims benefit of priority under 35 USC 119 (e) of U.S. provisional Patent Application No. 60/484,651 filed Jul. 7, 2003 and entitled “Universal Telescoping Soffit Hanger” by Filazek, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to devices for hanging plants or other items from structures, and in particular relates to a device for hanging such items from the eaves of a house.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As the population ages, more and more people are becoming interested in gardening and improvements to their homes. One way of beautifying homes is to add plants around them. Typically, this is done by planting flowers in the soil around the base of the home, but this leaves the wall of the house exposed. Some plants, like creeping ivy, can be used as covering for the building's exterior, but this is typically very destructive to the house itself, as the plant retains water and promotes rot of the sidewalls.

In order to overcome this disadvantage, it is often desirable to hang potted plants from the eaves of a home. In prior art applications, this requires a hook or other fastener to be securely attached to the building, with the attendant disadvantages of requiring a solid part of the building to attach a fastener into, thus limiting the potential locations for locating a plant. In many cases, the location of a suitable anchor point will not coincide with the location of a suitable structure to attach a fastener into. In addition to limiting locations, the fastener is permanently attached to the structure and will leave a hole if it is removed.

What is therefore desired is a novel device for hanging plants and the like which overcomes the limitations and disadvantages of prior devices. Preferably, it should be easily insertable and removable from the eaves of a structure without leaving holes in the structure. Further, it should provide a user with flexibility for locating the item to be hung in a multitude of locations under the eves.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided in one aspect a device for supporting an item beneath a soffit comprising:

    • a telescoping member having first and second opposed ends and attachment means therealong;
    • means for fixing said telescoping member at a desired length so that said first and second ends remain mounted to said soffit; and,
    • a clip for engaging said attachment means and to which said item may be mounted.

In another aspect the invention provides a method of mounting an item beneath a soffit using a selescoping member comprising:

    • adjusting the telescoping member to a desired length to fit between edges of the soffit;
    • fixing the telescoping member to the desired length; and,
    • attaching a clip to said telescoping member for supporting said item.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1a shows a side view of the soffit hanger according to a first embodiment of the present invention shown mounted under the eave of a house and a plant hanging therefrom;

FIG. 1b shows a variant of the first embodiment;

FIG. 2 shows the tubes of the soffit hanger of FIG. 1a in a disassembled form;

FIG. 3 is a cross-section of the soffit hanger of FIG. 1a at the location of the hanging plant, and showing one embodiment of a spring retainer clip;

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view from below the soffit of the hanger of FIG. 1a invention installed thereon;

FIG. 5 shows an alternate, second embodiment of the soffit hanger of the present invention;

FIG. 5a shows a variant of one end of the soffit hanger of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6a shows an alternate embodiment of the spring retainer clip in it's relaxed state prior to mounting on the soffit hanger; and,

FIG. 6b shows the clip of FIG. 6a in its biased, or opened, position mounted on the soffit hanger.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention provides for a telescoping hanger (generally designated by reference numeral (10) in FIG. 1a), suitable for use on a house or other structure (20), and in particular beneath the roof's overhanging portion, or eave (25). The hanger (10) is designed to be removably mounted adjacent a soffit member (24) of the eave for the purposes of hanging or supporting thereunder items (34) such as plants, decorations, bird feeders, wind chimes and the like. When describing the present invention, all terms not defined herein have their common art-recognized meanings.

For general reference, a soffit track (22), in the form of a C-shaped channel, is typically fixed to the exterior wall (21) of the house, and defines a channel that the soffit member (24) is slid into to be held in position vertically on the wall. The opposed longitudinal end of the soffit member (24) is supported on the ridge, or lip (32), of a fascia covering (30) which is typically nailed to a fascia board (28) running along the terminal ends of the roof rafters (26). The track (27), soffit member (24), and the facia covering (30), including the structural supports therefor, are considered part of the “soffit” or “soffit assembly” referred to herein.

Referring now as well to FIGS. 2 & 3 for more detail of the invention, the hanger (10) includes an elongate first, or “small”, soffit tube (12), an elongate second, or “large”, soffit tube (14) and a spring retainer clip (16) (also referred to herein as a “clamp”). The small soffit tube (12) has a first end (12a) for receivingly engaging the soffit track (22), while the soffit tube's opposed second end (12b) slides within the hollow interior of the larger soffit tube (14) via its open first end (14a). The lengths of each of the large and small soffit tubes (12, 14) are sized in the preferred embodiment such that they can accommodate and fit a number of different widths of soffit. Once the tubes (12, 14) are extended so that the ends of the soffit hanger engage the edges of the soffit (as shown in FIG. 1a), the soffit tubes are prevented, or locked, from moving (i.e retracting) after installation by inserting a fixing means in the overlapping portion of the two tubes, namely a safety pin (11), such as a cotter pin, and/or the biased retainer clip (16). The choice of fixing means will be discussed later. It will be appreciated that the safety pin may be inserted at the first available hole immediately outside the overlapping portion, although this is not preferred as it would only lock retraction of the tubes and not extension.

Referring now in more detail to a first embodiment of the clamp (16) as seen in FIG. 3, it has a first finger engaging portion (16a) of suitable width to register with either the exterior of the small tube (12) or the large tube (14) (about which it is located in FIG. 3), and has overlapping detached ends (16b). A plurality of diametrically opposed holes (17) are drilled into each of the tubes along their lengths about ½ inch (aprox. 13 mm) apart, and it is through an opposed pair of these aligned holes that the clamp ends (16b) are inserted for attachment to the telescoping hanger. The clamp portions (16a) must first be pulled apart a suitable distance so that the tips of the clamp ends (16b) are located on either side of the tube (14) (or tube (12), as the case may be) adjacent the holes (17), and then released so that the biasing action of the lower ring portion (16c) pushes the ends (16b) through the aligned holes (17). Once the clamp is installed, the lower ring shaped portion (16c) of the clamp is used to hang a desired item (34). The plurality of holes (17) also provide a user with a choice of locations along the hanger from which to hang the desired item, and to hang other items using further clamps (16), conventional hooks or the like.

Ideally, the ends (16b) of the clamp are inserted through the aligned holes in the portion where the large and small tubes overlap (as shown in FIGS. 1a iand 3), thus ensuring that the two tubes are slidingly locked together by the detached ends (16b) which will pass through both tubes. However, where it is desired to mount the clamp (16) outside the overlapping portion of the tubes (12, 14), then the safety pin 11 must be inserted through the aligned holes (17) in the overlapping portion to ensure that the hanger remains slidingly fixed in the desired extended position. It will be appreciated that where the safety pin is used, the clamp may be mounted to any of the remaining holes (17) along the hanger, including those along the overlapping portion (as shown in FIG. 1a). In fact, it is preferred to use the safety pin in all cases to avoid accidental retraction of the tubes should the clamp here moved from the overlapping portion of the tubes.

The large soffit tube (14) has a flattened notch (15) (see FIG. 2) forming a hooked second end (14b) to enhance engagement with the soffit, including a securing function to avoid dislodging of the telescoping hanger from the soffit and ensuring that the tube and weight from the item on the hanger (16) does not rest on or damage the eavestrough soffit support (32). The notch (15) should be located close to the end of the tube (14) so that the nose portion (14d) of the tube (between the notch and the end of the tube) is able to fit into the facia support (30) between the lip (32) and the facia board (28), as shown in FIG. 1a. The width of the notch (15) should be large enough to provide an upper flat portion to allow longitudinal adjustment of the tube's position on the lip (32), namely to allow the second end of the tube (14b) to abut or be put in close proximity of the facia board (28) while the notch remains engaged on the lip (32). FIGS. 1a and 4 show the first embodiment of the telescoping hanger (10) mounted under the eave 25 of the house (20). Since each transverse edge (24a) of each soffit member (24) is inclinded to increase the rigidity of the member, a trough (24b) is formed along the adjoining edges of two soffit members (24). Hence, this trough forms a mounting location for the hanger (10) of the present invention. The mounting is accomplished by holding the hanger below the trough (24b) and extending the larger tube (14) so that the notch (15) is seated on the facia's lip (32), and extending the smaller tube (12) into the soffit track (22). Once the tubes (12, 14) have been extended to their maximum extent such that their distal ends abut the soffit track (22) and facia board (28) respectively, the tubes should be rotated to align the holes (17) in both tubes so that they can be locked in position by the safety clip (11) and/or the spring clip (16) as described earlier. Alignment of the holes (17) may require slight retraction the tubes. Once in the locked position, the soffit hanger is ready to receive the item (34) to be hung.

A second embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 5. Whereas the hanger (10) of the first embodiment has downwardly inclined portions (12c, 14c) to space the body of the hanger away, or below, the soffit (24), the hanger (110) of the second embodiment has been simplified by eliminating those inclined portions. Both the small and large tubes (112, 114) are formed as straight tubes, wherein the small tube's first end (112) tube will engage the soffit track (22) and the large tube's second end (114b) will engage the lip (32) as in the previous embodiment. The small tube (112) remains slidingly engaged within the large tube (114). The large tube's second end (114b) is also altered in that it is merely crimped and folded to form a hook (114c) for engaging over the lip (32). A series of diametrically opposed holes (117) are drilled in the tubes to receivingly engage the safety pin and/or retainer clip. The larger tube (114) may be provided with fewer, more widely spaced holes (117) than in the smaller tube (112) since the wider spacing saves on manufacturing costs, increases the tube's strength, and still provides an adequate choice for location of the hanging clip (16). A closer hole spacing is retained in the smaller tube (112) to facilitate hole alignment in the overlapping portions of the tubes for locking purposes.

In a variant of the large tube's second end (114b) shown in FIG. 5a, the tube is crimped so as to form a generally flat portion (115) to facilitate sliding of the tube on the facia's lip (32) to abut the facia board (28), as described earlier for notch (15).

A variant of the spring clip (116) is shown in FIG. 6a in its relaxed, unmounted, orientation, and in FIG. 6b in a biased, or open position when mounted through the holes (117) in the larger tube (114). The design of clip (116) is simpler and requires fewer forming steps than the clip (16), but yet works in much the same way. The clip's finger engaging portions (116a) must first be pulled apart a suitable distance so that the tips of the clip ends (116b) are located on either side of the tube (114) (or tube (112), as the case may be) adjacent the holes (117), and then released so that the biasing action of the lower ring portion (116c) pushes the ends (116b) into the aligned holes (117). Once the clamp is installed, the lower ring shaped portion (116c) of the clamp is used to hang a desired item (34). Each clip end (116b) is oriented, or angled, relative to the respective finger engaging portion (116a) so that the ends hook over the holes, namely they incline downwardly inside the tube (114) away from the holes (117). These “hooks” help retain the clip (116) in the holes to resist unwanted or accidental retraction therefrom.

In some other variants of the invention, a notch (15) may also be added to the first end (12a) of the small soffit tube (12) for engaging a ridge-like member of the soffit, or the notches may be omitted from both tubes, although this is not preferred. It will also be understood that the hanger (10) may be mounted to the house in the opposite orientation to that shown in FIG. 1a, namely as shown in FIG. 1b, by placing the small tube (12) over the eavestrough lip (32) and the large tube (14) within the soffit track (22).

Good results have been obtained using a smaller tube (112) having a 10 mm outer diameter and a larger hollow tube 114 with a ½ inch (about 13 mm) outer diameter, and both made of a rust proofed carbon steel for support strength and durability. Although other materials, such as plastic, may be used, they are not preferred due to lack of strength, as the desired tube diameter should be kept small to fit within the soffit trough 24b.

The above description is intended in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense, and variations to the specific configurations described may be apparent to skilled persons in adapting the present invention to other specific applications. Such variations are intended to form part of the present invention insofar as they are within the spirit and scope of the claims below. For instance, the tubes can take other shapes (e.g. square or triangular cross-sections) from the tubular shapes as described and shown herein, as long as the chosen shapes are complimentary to allow one tube to slide within or past the other.