Title:
Base member for water-retaining structure and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A base member for receiving the bottom of a wall of an above-ground pool comprising a plurality of rail members each having a first rail portion, a second rail portion and a hinge linking the rail portions, and an indexing device between the rail portions such that the rail portions can be locked in one of a plurality of orientations about the hinge, accommodating one of predetermined perimeters of the wall, whereby the member receives the bottom of the wall along the perimeter.



Inventors:
Foy, Jerome (Orford, CA)
Provost, Serge (St-Laurant, CA)
Application Number:
10/982043
Publication Date:
07/14/2005
Filing Date:
11/05/2004
Assignee:
FOY JEROME
PROVOST SERGE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/344; E04C3/00; E04H4/00; E04H4/04; E04H4/14; (IPC1-7): E04H4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUYNH, KHOA D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - East Coast (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
1. A base for receiving the bottom of a wall of an above-ground water retaining recreational structure comprising a plurality of elongated rail members each having first and second ends and a hinge intermediate the first and second ends defining at least first and second rail member portions; and an indexing device between the elongated rail member portions associated with the hinge member such that the first and second rail member portions can be locked in one of a plurality of orientations about the axis of the hinge, in order to accommodate at least one of a plurality of differently curved and straight segments of the wall.

2. The base as defined in claim 1 wherein each first and second rail member portion is arcuate.

3. The base according to claim 1, wherein a continuous longitudinal channel is defined in the rail members in order to receive the wall.

4. The base as defined in claim 1 wherein a pair of rail members are coupled together, end to end by means of a male-female coupling of respective second ends and the respective first ends of the rail members are adapted to be joined to adjacent posts forming the structure which is in the form of an above ground pool.

4. The base according to claim 3, wherein a clip is included in the continuous longitudinal channel to retain the wall in the channel.

5. The base according to claim 1, wherein the indexation device comprises a first locking member projecting from the first rail member portion; a second locking member projecting from the second rail member portion such that the second locking member overlaps the first locking member; a plurality of pairs of matched apertures, each pair being formed by an aperture in the first locking member and a corresponding aperture in the second locking member, such that each of the possible orientations is defined by an alignment of the apertures in one pair; and a pin adapted to be inserted through an aligned pair of apertures to lock the first and second locking members in order to maintain a desired orientation.

6. The base according to claim 1, wherein the first rail member portion, the second rail member portion and the hinge are integrally molded.

7. The base according to claim 5 wherein the first rail member portion, the second rail member portion, the hinge and the first and second locking members are integrally molded.

8. A method for receiving a wall of an above-ground water retaining recreational structure using a plurality of rail members adapted for a plurality of perimeters wherein each of the rail members includes a pair of hingedly connected arcuate rail portions, comprising the steps of: a. angularly orienting the pair of hingedly connected arcuate rail portions; b. locking the rail portions of each member in the selected relative orientation; c. positioning the members to form a desired perimeter; d. receiving the bottom of the wall in the members.

9. A method according to claim 8, wherein step b includes selecting a first aperture in a first locking member linked with one of the rail portions, changing a relative orientation of the rail portions until the first aperture is aligned with an associated second aperture in a second locking member overlapping the first locking member and linked to the other in the pair of rail portions, and inserting a pin through the first and second apertures to secure the relative orientation.

10. A rail member for a base of an above ground pool comprising a rail member having first and second ends and a hinge intermediate the first and second ends defining at least first and second rail member portions; and an indexing device between the elongated rail member portions associated with the hinge member such that the first and second rail member portions can be locked in one of a plurality of orientations about the axis of the hinge, in order to accommodate at least one of a plurality of differently curved and straight segments of a wall.

11. An above-ground swimming pool comprising: a. a wall defining a bottom and comprising a plurality of differently curved segments; and b. a base for receiving the bottom of the wall, the base comprising a plurality of elongated rail members each having first and second ends and a hinge intermediate the first and second ends defining at least first and second rail member portions; and an indexing device between the elongated rail member portions associated with the hinge member such that the first and second rail member portions can be locked in one of a plurality of orientations about the axis of the hinge, in order to accommodate at least one of the plurality of differently curved segments of the wall.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to water retaining recreational structures, more specifically to a device for supporting the wall of an above-ground swimming pool.

2. Background Art

Above-ground swimming pools are usually composed of a flexible wall of sheet metal or appropriately hard plastic sheeting supported by upright posts. A desired pool shape is commonly maintained by a rail member or ledge supporting the top of the wall. The bottom of the wall was traditionally supported by sand, rocks or cement. However, it was recently established that the use of a base member supporting the bottom of the wall reduces the wall deformation brought about by ground unevenness due to freezing and thawing. Because above-ground swimming pools are commonly manufactured in a variety of shapes such as circular, oblong or oval, and of different diameters, manufacturers are usually required to produce a variety of top and base members to accommodate these different sizes.

Top rail members or ledges that can be adapted to a variety of pool sizes have been developed. Such top rail members are taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,122 issued on Jul. 2, 2002 to the assignee of the present application. These rail members are adapted to be pivotally mounted at their ends to the upright posts with a variable angle between adjacent members. This angle variation is achieved through a discrete indexation device with each position being associated with a desired pool diameter. This system allows the manufacturer to produce a single top rail member that can be used for all the pool sizes and shapes offered. However, these top rail members require specially manufactured upright posts for their assembly.

Other types of top rail members allow for an orientation variation between adjacent members, such as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 3,874,132 issued on Apr. 1, 1975 to Mendelow et al., and U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,807 issued on Aug. 3, 1993 to Aymes. These top rail members are composed of sections pivotally connected to one another in order to be able to vary the angle between each section. However, since the aim of these inventions was to facilitate installation rather than provide a plurality of possible pool sizes, the possible orientation variation is continuous, imprecise and limited.

A number of base member types have been suggested, such as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 3,280,408 issued on Oct. 25, 1966 to Gershman, and by U.S. Pat. No. 5,991,940 issued on Nov. 30, 1999 to Fortier. However, these base members are rigid, requiring a different set of base members for each desired pool size or shape.

Accordingly, there is a need for a base member for pool walls that can be adapted to a variety of pool sizes and designs.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

It is therefore an aim of the present invention to provide a base member for receiving an above-ground water retaining pool wall that can be adapted to a variety of selected pool sizes or shapes.

It is also an aim of the present invention to provide a base member that can be used with a variety of above-ground pool structure designs.

It is another aim of the present invention to provide a base member that is easily adjustable at a desired angle.

It is another aim of the present invention to provide a base member that is easily installed.

It is yet another aim of the present invention to provide a method for receiving an above-ground water pool wall using a member adapted for a plurality of perimeters.

In accordance with the present invention a base member for receiving the bottom of a wall of an above-ground water retaining recreational structure is provided comprising a plurality of elongated rail members each having first and second ends and a hinge intermediate the first and second ends defining at least first and second rail member portions, and an indexation device between the elongated rail member portions associated with the hinge member such that the first and second rail member portions can be locked in one of a plurality of orientations about the hinge, in order to accommodate at least one of a plurality of differently curved and straight portions of the wall.

There is also provided a method for receiving a wall of an above-ground water retaining recreational structure using a plurality of members adapted for a plurality of perimeters comprising the steps of:

    • a. angularly orienting a pair of hingedly connected rail members;
    • b. locking the rail portions of each member in the selected relative orientation;
    • c. fixing the members to form a desired perimeter;
    • d. receiving the bottom of the wall along the perimeter in the fixed base members.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Having thus generally described the nature of the invention, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, showing by way of illustration a preferred embodiment thereof and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective schematic view of an above-ground pool assembly equipped with a base member according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a base member according to the invention; and

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the base member of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a detail of a pin used in the indexing device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 1, a base member 10 is shown in a pool assembly 12. The base member 10 receives the bottom edge of a pool wall 14, usually made of sheet metal or relatively hard plastic sheeting, in order to form the desired perimeter of the pool. A plurality of upright posts 16 support the pool wall 14. A coping or ledge 17 is fixed on the posts 16 and retains the upper edge of a watertight liner 18 designed to contain water.

A preferred embodiment includes a pair of base members 10a and 10b shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 and will now be described. Each base member 10a and 10b is molded as a hollow shell with a bottom surface appropriate to provide stable contact with the ground. The base member 10b is composed of two elongated rail portions 20,22 connected end to end by an integral hinge 24. The rail portions 20,22 are arcuate and have a radius equivalent to the radius of the largest circular swimming pool to be produced. A continuous channel 26 is formed longitudinally in the rail portions 20,22 in order to receive the pool wall 14 (shown in FIG. 1).

An integrally molded hinge 24 links the inner ends 20a,22a of the two rail portions 20,22 so as to be able to vary the relative orientation of the rail portions 20,22. An indexing device 28 is made of two cooperating, overlapping projections 29,30 extending from respective rail portion ends 20a,22a. A plurality of aperture pairs 32 are formed by corresponding apertures in each of the projections 29,30. Relative movement of the rail portions 20,22 about the hinge 24 allow one pair of apertures 32 to be aligned at a time, and each pair 32 is designed so as to bring a specific relative orientation of the rail portions 20,22. This specific orientation is identified by a number 33, written on the underside (also on the top, not shown) of the indexing device 28 next to one aperture of the corresponding pair 32, representing the pool diameter produced with an assembly of base members 10a,10b locked in that same relative orientation. A pin 34 (FIG. 4) is provided with appropriate dimensions to be inserted in an aligned aperture pair 32 in order to lock the rail portions 20,22 in their chosen relative orientation.

Base members 10a and 10b are meant to be connected together by means of a male coupling member 50 on base member 10b which is adapted to be inserted in the female socket 51 on base member 10a. The ends 52a and 52b of respective base members 10a and 10b are meant to be connected to the base plates of adjacent posts 16.

Along the channel 26, clips 36 are provided to frictionally retain the pool wall 12. These clips 36 are preferably composed of a pair of projections 38 fixed on one side of the channel 26 and a single projection 40 fixed on the other side of the channel 26 in the center of the gap between the pairs of projections 38. Additional projections 42 can also be placed along the channel 26 in order to maintain the wall 12 in the channel 26. The channel 26 also includes a plurality of slits 44 to minimize water retention.

In this preferred embodiment, the overall length of base member 10a or 10b is 27 inches, and the width indicated at W in FIG. 2 is 1.5 inches. Rail portion 20 has a length of 8.75 inches and rail portion 22, a length of 18 inches. Other dimensions are possible, as long as the base member can efficiently retain the bottom of the pool wall 14.

For structural purposes, the rail portions 20,22 preferably include a plurality of reinforcements 46 on the exterior wall and ribs 48 in a hollow underside as shown in FIG. 3. The base members 10a,10b are preferably each integrally molded from a suitable thermoplastic material. The base members 10a,10b also have a smooth finish with no sharp corners that can come in contact with the liner 18 in order to minimize the risks of puncture.

To install a pool using base members 10 according to a selected pool geometry, the rail portions 20,22 of each of the members 10 are locked in the appropriate relative orientation. For each member 10a,10b, the apertures of the selected pair 32 are aligned and the pin 34 is inserted in the aperture pair 32 to hold the relative orientation of the rail portions 20,22. The members 10a,10b are then connected end to end by the male and female connectors 50,51. The ends 52a,52b are connected to the upright posts 16. The wall 14 is placed within the posts 16 and the ledge 17 and liner 18 are installed in the manner already known in the art, while the bottom edge of the wall 14 is inserted in the channel 26 during this process.

It is contemplated that the base member 10 can accommodate a straight pool wall section as well as the curved sections.

It will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described. In particular, the rail portions 20,22 and hinge 24 could be fabricated separately and assembled. The base member 10 could also be made from another material, such as sheet metal with an appropriate thickness, provided no sharp corners are present. The rail portions 20,22 could also be straight or have another shape as long as this shape is adequate for the purpose described. These variations and others that are apparent to those of skill in the art are intended to be included in the present invention. Each rail base member 10a,10b could have two hinges 24 and corresponding indexing devices 28.





 
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