Title:
Wire mesh fencing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fencing system has a pair of fence posts that are vertically oriented. A pair of horizontally oriented rails connects the fence posts. A fence panel has several vertical wires and several pairs of vertically spaced horizontal wires. An upper portion of the fence panel is held within one of the rails and a lower portion of the fence panel is within the other rail. A retainer can be used to hold the fence panel within the rails. The retainer has a slot for surrounding a wire of the panel so that a horizontal wire of the panel is captured between the retainer and the rail.



Inventors:
Larsen, Charles (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/038887
Publication Date:
10/06/2005
Filing Date:
01/20/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/04; E04H17/16; (IPC1-7): E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070057243Single-wall slatMarch, 2007Hoggan
20090146121Posts For Road Safety BarrierJune, 2009Sharp et al.
20080141450Method of using clips for retrofit installation of a portable swimming pool barrier fenceJune, 2008Pesta
20070181865Pickets for use in modular fence systemsAugust, 2007Hein
20080157048HANDRAIL INSERTJuly, 2008Beachler et al.
20090272955TENSION GUARDRAIL TERMINALNovember, 2009Abu-odeh et al.
20050224777Connector fitting for railing componentsOctober, 2005Terrels
20030066993A FENCING ELEMENTApril, 2003Chamove
20070246696Fencing system in particular for deer controlOctober, 2007Campbell
20050098770Retractable safety net barricadeMay, 2005Schell
20060289846Wire twisting toolDecember, 2006Cohen



Primary Examiner:
FERGUSON, MICHAEL P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A fencing system comprising: a fence panel comprising a plurality of spaced vertical wires and a plurality of pairs of spaced horizontal wires, the vertical wires being attached to the pairs of spaced horizontal wires; a first rail having a first and second vertical walls configured to receive a portion of the panel therebetween, the first vertical wall having at least a first channel extending transversely to the first vertical wall and the second vertical wall having at least a second channel extending transversely to the second vertical wall; a retainer having first and second ends, the first end being configured to be slidable within the first channel and second end being configured to be slidable within the second channel, the retainer including having a slot extending from one side to a central portion of the retainer, the slot configured to receive and surround a portion of a vertical wire with the retainer being disposed in the first and second channels.

2. A fencing system comprising: a fence panel; a first rail including at least first and second channels, each of the first and second channels having an open end, the open end of the first channel facing toward the open end of the second channel; a retainer having first and second ends, the retainer being configured such that the first end can be received in the first channel and the second end can be received in the second channel, with the retainer extending through the panel.

3. The fencing system of claim 2, wherein the panel comprises a plurality of vertical wires, the rail including a generally I-shaped cross-sectional profile and an elongated opening configured to receive the vertical wires, wherein the channels have a generally U-shaped cross-sectional profiles.

4. The fencing system of claim 3, wherein the retainer has a generally M-shaped cross-section, the retainer being configured such that each end of the retainer can be slidably engaged with and within one of the U-shaped channels to inhibit vertical movement of the retainer.

5. The fencing system of claim 4, wherein the vertical wires are 4 gauge wires.

6. The fencing system of claim 2, wherein the panel includes a plurality of vertical wires arranged substantially parallel and defining a plane, and a plurality of pairs of spaced horizontal wires disposed on one side of the plane and welded to the vertical wires, each pair of spaced horizontal wires comprise substantially parallel wires that are separated by a distance of about 1 inch.

7. The fencing system of claim 2, further comprising a second rail, the first rail being engaged with an upper edge of the panel and the second rail being engaged with a lower edge of the panel.

8. The fencing system of claim 2, wherein the first rail includes a third channel having an open end and a fourth channel having an open end, the open ends of the third and fourth channels facing towards each other.

9. The fencing system of claim 2, wherein the retainer further comprises a slot opening along the first end.

10. The fencing system of claim 9, wherein the retainer includes body portion extending between the first and second ends, the body portion including a recess configured to engage a portion of the panel.

11. The fencing system of claim 10, wherein the panel includes a straight wire extending along one edge thereof, the recess being configured to engage the straight wire.

12. The fencing system of claim 11, wherein the first rail includes an inner wall connecting the first and second channels, the retainer being configured to capture the straight wire between the inner wall and the recess.

13. A method of constructing a fence comprising at least one rail and at least one panel, the method comprising: inserting a retainer through a portion of the panel; sliding a portion of the panel and the retainer into a channel defined in the rail.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the step of sliding comprises inserting a first end of the retainer into a first portion of the channel disposed on a first side of the panel and inserting a second end of the retainer into a second portion of the channel disposed on a second side of the panel.

15. A kit for building a fencing system, said kit comprising: a fence panel; a first rail including at least first and second channels, each of the first and second channels having an open end, the open end of the first channel facing toward the open end of the second channel; a retainer having first and second ends, the retainer being configured such that the first end can be received in the first channel and the second end can be received in the second channel, with the retainer extending through the panel.

16. The kit of claim 15, wherein the retainer comprises a first central portion connected to the first and second ends, the central portion including a V-shaped cross-sectional profile.

17. The kit of claim 16, wherein the central portion includes an elongated slot opening along thee first end.

18. The kit of claim 16, wherein the retainer has an M-shaped cross-section.

19. The kit of claim 15, wherein the kit comprises a second rail having an elongated opening between a pair of walls, the elongated opening of the second rail configured to receive a portion of the panel such that the portion of the wire fence is between the walls of the first and second rails, and the pair of rails having a generally I-shaped cross-sectional profile.

20. The kit of claim 18, wherein the kit comprises a plurality of the retainers and at least a pair of elongated fence post, each fence post is configured to be coupled to an end of the rails.

21. A fencing system comprising: a post; an upper rail connected to the post and including a channel; a panel of fencing having an upper portion; and means for slidably anchoring the upper portion of the panel within the channel of the upper rail.

22. The fencing system of claim 21, further comprising a retainer slidably disposed in the rail, a portion of the sheet disposed between the retainer and rail.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based upon and claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/538,190, filed on Jan. 21, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present inventions generally relate to fencing, and in particular, to fencing systems having a fence panel held by rails which are connected to fence posts.

2. Description of the Related Art

Traditionally, fences have been used in residential and industrial settings as a barrier for privacy and/or security. Fences typically have vertical fence posts, which have a bottom portion anchored to the ground and an upper portion that supports a panel which can be made of woven metal wires. Such woven wires can form a fabric defining a diamond (commonly known as “chain-link”) or other patterns. Other types of fence panels are made from wires welded into a desired design. Metal couplers are used to attach the panels to the posts.

Long portions of such panels can be rolled for storage and transport. Because the such metal fabrics can be stored in rolls for extended period of time, the metal may retain its curved shape when the fabric is unrolled. Thus, the fabric may become biased toward its rolled position thereby making installation of the panels difficult.

Conventional fences have couplers that attach the panels to the fence posts. For example, chain-link fences have metal couplers that attach the chain-link fabric to the fence posts. The metal couplers are generally U-shaped and have ends that are bent to form a closed loop around a wire of the chain-link fabric. The ends of the coupler are coupled to wires on either side of the fence post so that the fence post is between the U-shaped coupler and the chain-link fabric.

To remove the metal couplers for repair or disassembly, the bent ends of the couplers have to be straightened or cut so that the chain-link fabric can be removed. Generally, tools or machines are used to straighten the ends of the U-shaped wires. Other conventional fences, such as wire strand fences, have several wire strands that are stapled to wooden fence post. These staples are permanently embedded in the wooden post making replacement of a wire strand difficult.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with at least one embodiment, a fencing system comprises a fence panel, a first rail including at least first and second channels, each of the first and second channels having an open end, the open end of the first channel facing toward the open end of the second channel, and a retainer having first and second ends. The retainer is configured such that the first end can be received in the first channel and the second end can be received in the second channel, with the retainer extending through the panel.

In accordance with at least one embodiment, a method is provided for constructing a fence comprising at least one rail and at least one panel. The method comprises inserting a retainer through a portion of the panel, and sliding a portion of the panel and the retainer into a channel defined in the rail.

In accordance with at least one embodiment, a kit for building a fencing system comprises a fence panel, a first rail including at least first and second channels, each of the first and second channels having an open end, the open end of the first channel facing toward the open end of the second channel. The kit also includes a retainer having first and second ends, the retainer being configured such that the first end can be received in the first channel and the second end can be received in the second channel, with the retainer extending through the panel.

In accordance with at least one embodiment, a fencing system comprises a post, an upper rail connected to the post and including a channel. The system also includes a panel of fencing having an upper portion and means for slidably anchoring the upper portion of the panel within the channel of the upper rail.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present inventions will now be described with reference to the drawings of preferred embodiments, which are intended to illustrate and not to limit the inventions, and in which figures:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a fencing system, the fencing system having a panel between a pair of upright fence post assemblies and upper and lower rails;

FIG. 1A is an elevational view of a fencing system with a pair of panels;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged elevational view of one of the post assemblies shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the lower rail shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the upper rail shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3B is a perspective view of a modification of the lower rail illustrated in FIG. 3;

FIG. 4 is an elevational view of the panel shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged elevational view of the portion of the fencing system identified by line 5-5 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a bracket shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of a panel coupled to a rail with a retainer;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the retainer shown in FIG. 7, the retainer having a slot;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the retainer shown in FIG. 7, a portion of a panel being illustrated in phantom;

FIG. 10 is cross-section of the rail and retainer of FIG. 7 taken along line 10-10;

FIG. 11 is an elevational view of a fencing system in accordance with another embodiment; and

FIG. 12 is an elevational view of a fencing system in accordance with an additional embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a fencing system 20 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment. Each section 22 of the fencing system 20 preferably includes post assemblies 24, 26, rails 30, 32, and a panel 36. The post assemblies 24, 26 are vertically oriented and held within the ground 38.

In the illustrated embodiment, the post assemblies 24, 26 stand upright and are substantially parallel. The post assemblies 24, 26 are connected by the horizontally oriented rails 30, 32. The rail 30 is connected to an upper end of the post assemblies 24, 26. The rail 32 is connected to a lower end of the post assemblies 24, 26. The panel 36 is spaced above the ground 38 and held between the rails 30, 32 and between the post assemblies 24, 26.

To assist in the description of the fencing system 20, words such as upward, upper, downward, lower, upright, vertical and horizontal are used to describe the accompanying figures. It will be appreciated, however, that the illustrated embodiments can be located or oriented in a variety of desired positions, including various angles, sideways and even upside down.

With reference to FIG. 2, the post assembly 24 comprises an end cap 40, a body portion 44, and a plurality of brackets 48, 50, 52. The post assembly 24 can be used as a fence line post or end post and is configured to provide support for the rails 30, 32 and the panel 36. A lower end of the post 24 can be anchored into the ground in any known manner. FIG. 1 illustrates the lower end of the post 24 being anchored in the ground 38 with concrete C. Any other method for anchoring the post 24 can be used.

Each of the brackets is coupled to the rails and/or the panel 36. Generally, the end cap 40 is attached to the top of the body 44 and the brackets 48, 50, 52 are spaced along and coupled to the body 44.

The end cap 40 is coupled to and covers a first end 60 of the body 44. The end cap 40 has a curved portion 56 that is connected to a flange 58, which is sized to fit around a portion of the body 44. In one embodiment, the body 44 has a rectangular cross-sectional profile and the flange 58 defines a generally rectangular opening that is configured and sized to fit over the end 60 of the body 44. In other embodiments, the body 44 can have other shaped cross-sectional profiles. For example, the body 44 can have a circular, elliptical, or the like cross-sections. The end cap 40 is configured to cover the end 60 and provide a smooth surface, which may reduce injury, for example, during assembly and installation of the fencing system 20. The body 44 can be hollow (e.g., a thin walled post) and the end cap 40 can cover an opening of the end 60 to ensure that material or fluids do not enter the inner portion of the body 44. For example, the end cap 40 can prevent water from passing through the end 60 and into the inner portion of the body 44.

The end cap 40 can be configured to prevent the brackets 48, 50, 52 from sliding off of the body 44. The wall of the flange 58 is sized to prevent the brackets, which are engaged with the body 44 and connected to the rails 30, 32, from passing over the flange 58. Although not illustrated, the end cap 40 can include fasteners that couple the end cap 40 to the body 44. For example, a screw, pin, or the like can be used to securely attach the cap 40 to the end 60. The end cap 40 can be made of metal, plastic, or the like.

The central portion 64 extends between the ends 60, 62 and defines an outer surface 66 and inner surface. The inner surface can define a channel extending through the body 44.

In the illustrated embodiment, the body 44 has generally rectangular outer cross-section profile which defines a rectangular outer surface 66. The body 44 also has a generally rectangular inner cross-section profile defining the inner surface (not shown) which forms a channel through the body 44. The channel extending between the ends 60, 62 is defined by the inner surfaces of the central portion 64 and can be rectangular in cross-section. Although not illustrated, the body 44 can be cylindrical with a generally circular cross-sectional profile. The cross section of the body 44 can be uniform or can vary along its longitudinal axis.

In one exemplary, but non-limiting, embodiment, the body 44 has a square cross-sectional profile, and each side of the square is approximately 2 inches wide. In this exemplary embodiment, the post assembly 24 has an overall length of about 5 feet to about 6 feet above the ground when the fencing system 20 is assembled. As noted above, a portion of the post 24 is disposed within the ground. In one embodiment, the second end 62 is disposed approximately 2 feet into the ground. Those skilled in the art appreciate that second end 62 may have any desired length so that it can be inserted into the ground or concrete, depending, for example, upon the desired height and/or strength of the fencing system 20. The length of the body 44 can be varied depending on whether the post is a line post or end post, or whether the fencing system 20 is free standing.

In one exemplary but non-limiting embodiment, the post 24 is constructed from steel with a thickness of about ⅛th of an inch. In other embodiments, the steel can have other thicknesses. The post 24 can also be constructed from other types of metals and other materials with suitable characteristics such as plastics, wood, or composite materials. One of ordinary skill in the art can determine the appropriate combination of material type, thickness, and shape to achieve the desired resistance to wind loads, or other forces, such as when the fencing system 20 is hit by an object.

The post assembly 24 can be coated with materials such as paint, for example, to match the post 24 with other components of the fencing system 20 or other materials to inhibit corrosion. In some embodiments, the entire post assembly 24 is coated with material to inhibit rusting of the post assembly 24, especially the portion of the body 44 within or near the ground.

In some embodiments, the body 44 can be manufactured by cutting a piece of extruded steel (e.g., a 2×2 piece of steel) to the desired dimension. Alternatively, the body 44 can be formed from sheet metal bent into the desired shape of the post 24. The post 24 can be formed with various dimensions which can be larger or smaller, for example, than the above dimensions depending upon the desired use of the body 44. Generally, the dimensions of the post 24 can be increased if, for example, the panels 36 are heavy or if the system 20 is subject to large forces (e.g., high wind loads).

The post 24 provides support to the rails 30, 32 and the panel 36 so that the fencing system 20, as shown in FIG. 1, can be freestanding. Advantageously, the body 44 provides sufficient support to limit the movement of the fencing system 20 in plural directions. The post assembly 24 can be used as a fence line post to support two sections 22, 22′ of fencing, where each section 22, 22′ includes two rails 30, 32, 30′, 32′ and a panel 36, 36′, respectively, as shown in FIG. 1A. With respect to the multi-panel embodiment of the fencing section 20 illustrated in FIG. 1A, the section panel 22′ can be constructed identically or substantially identically as the panel 22.

The components of the section 22′ are identified with the same reference numerals as those used to identify corresponding components of the section 22, except that “′” has been used. The post assembly 24 has at least one bracket 48, 50 that hold the rails 30, 32 on either side of the post assembly 24. Preferably, each post assembly 24 supports a plurality of brackets where at least one of the brackets is used to hold the panel 36. FIG. 1A shows the post assembly 24 with the rails 30, 32 supporting panel 36 on one side and rails 30′, 32′ supporting panel 36′ on the other side.

With continued reference to FIG. 2, the bracket 48 can be attached to the body 44 near the first end 60. The bracket 52 is attached near the second end 62. The bracket 50 is attached to the body 44 at the central portion of the body 44 midway between the brackets 48, 52. The brackets surround and contact the outer surface 66 and hold the rails 30, 32 and/or the panel 36. The brackets 48, 50, 52 can be substantially similar to each other as described in further detail below.

With reference to FIG. 3, the rail 32 comprises sides 80, 82, and a bottom 86. The rail 32 has ends 88 and 90. The sides 80, 82 define a channel 94 which extends from the bottom 86 to an opening 96. In the illustrated embodiment, the rail 32 has a generally I-shaped cross-sectional profile with the opening 96 at an upper end.

The side 80 has an upper channel 100 and a lower channel 102 disposed at the ends of a wall 104. In the illustrated embodiment, the channels 100, 102 are generally U-shaped in cross-section. The upper channel 100 has a wall 101 and the lower channel 102 has a wall 103.

The side 82 has an upper channel 106 and a lower channel 108 disposed at the ends of a wall 110. In the illustrated embodiment, the channels 106, 108 are generally U-shaped in cross-section. The upper channel 106 has a wall 107 and the lower channel 108 has a wall 109. The lower channels 102, 108 are connected to the ends of the bottom 86. The opening 96 is between the edges of the upper channels 100, 106.

The longitudinal axes of the channels 100, 102, 106, 108 can be substantially parallel. The channels 100, 106 define a rectangular channel and the channels 102, 108 define another rectangular channel.

The channel 94, the upper channels 100, 106, and the lower channels 102, 108 define a generally I-shaped channel 112. The channel 112 extends from the end 88 to the end 90 of the rail 32. A further advantage is provided where at least one of the channels 100, 102, 106, 108, 112, described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 7-10, has a generally uniform cross-sectional shape along of the rail 32. In the illustrated embodiment, the channels 100, 102, 106, 108 have substantially similar cross-sectional profiles. In some embodiments, the channels 100, 102, 106, 108 can have different cross-sectional profiles.

The bottom 86 is connected to the sides 80, 82 of the rail 32 and extends from the end 88 to the end 90. The bottom 86 defines one side of the lower channels 102, 108 and is generally rectangular in shape.

With continued reference to FIG. 3, the end 88 includes a pair of openings 116, 118 that pass through the sides 82, 80, respectively. In the illustrated embodiment, the opening 116 passes through the wall 110 and is in the form of a circular opening. The opening 118 passes through the wall 104 and also is a circular opening. The openings 116, 118 are sized so that a fastener (e.g., a bolt, pin, screw, or the like) can be passed through walls 80, 82 to attach the rail 32 to the post assembly 24. Preferably, the openings 116, 118 are aligned so that the fastener can be inserted through the rail 32.

The end 90 is similar to the end 88 and has a pair of openings 120, 122. The end 90 can be attached to the post assembly 26 as shown in FIG. 1. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the end 90 is coupled to the bracket 124 of the post assembly 26.

As shown in FIG. 3A, the rail 30 can be similar or identical to the rail 32 to reduce the cost of production of the fencing system 20. Those skilled in the art recognize that there are various configurations for the rails 30, 32. For example, in one embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3B, the rail 32a has a pair of sides 80a, 82a defining a pair of channels 102a, 108a, respectively. A channel 94a is between the sides 80, 82 and is configured to receive a portion of the panel 36.

With respect to FIG. 4, the panel 36 comprises a plurality of horizontal wires 140 and a plurality of vertical wires 144. As shown in FIG. 1, the panel 36 is sized and configured to extend between the post assemblies 24, 26, which are connected by the rails 30, 32. The panel 36 also extends from the rail 30 to the rail 32.

The length of the panel 36 is similar to the length of the rails 30, 32 so that an upper portion 151 of the panel 36 can fit within the rail 30 and a lower portion 153 of the panel 36 can fit within the rail 32. The rails 30, 32 capture and provide support to the panel 36 to inhibit movement of the panel 36. For example, the rails 30, 32 can reduce bowing of the panel 36. Further, the rails 30, 32 can be conveniently grasped during, for example, assembly of the fencing system 20. The rails 30, 32 can protect and prevent damage to the portions of the panel 36 that are disposed within the rails 30, 32. Additionally, the rails 30, 32 can provide a medium for an aesthetic features. The illustrated rails 30, 32, for example, but without limitation, provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance for the fencing system 20. Additionally, the illustrated rails 30, 32 receive the upper edge of the panel 36, thereby hiding the upper edge from view. As such, the upper edge of the section 22 is more aesthetically pleasing.

The plurality of wires 140 is in the form of several pairs of vertically spaced wires. An upper pair of spaced horizontal wires 150 is at the upper portion 151, and a lower pair of spaced horizontal wires 152 is at the lower portion 153 of the panel 36.

A further advantage is provided where each pair of wires 150, 152 is configured to fit within a rail. For example, in the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the pair of wires 150 fit within and are thereby hidden from view by the rail 30 (as shown in FIG. 5). Similarly, the pair of wires 152 is disposed within the rail 32. Thus, the pair of wires 152 is configured to fit within the channel 94 the rail 32.

A further advantage is provided where the wires 150, 152 are generally straight and sized so that the upper portion 151 and lower portion 153 can be slid along the rails 30, 32, respectively. As such, assembly and/or disassembly is further simplified, described in greater detail below.

Between the pair of wires 150, 152, are additional pairs of vertically spaced horizontal wires. The pairs of horizontally spaced wires 140 are generally parallel and defined in a single plane. An additional advantage is provided where the horizontal wires 140 have a diameter smaller than the diameter of the vertical wires 144. In some exemplary embodiments, the horizontal wires can be 2 to 6 gauge wires. The horizontal wires 140 can be made of metal, plastic, or the like. For example, in one embodiment, the horizontal wires 140 are made of steel. In one exemplary non-limiting embodiment, the wires forming each pair of spaced horizontal wires 140 are separated by a distance of about 1 inch.

Advantageously, the pairs of horizontal wires 140 can reduce the movement of the panel 36. The pairs of wires and provide more structural support than a signal wire. For example, a pair of wires 140 can reduce movement of the panel 36 more than a single wire when a force in the vertical or horizontal directions is applied to the panel 36. Further, the spacing of the wires can provide a

The wires 140, 144 results in a panel 36 having slender rectangular openings that can be seen through, while providing a strong and rigid barrier. Conventional fences typically have evenly spaced horizontal wires that are welded to evenly spaced vertical wires. A weld between the one of the horizontal wires and the vertical wires may break resulting in a weak portion of the fence. The panel 36 has pairs of wires 140, each wire is, for example, welded to a vertical wire. In the illustrated embodiment, the pair of wires 150 has two wires that can be welded to a wire 156. If one of the welds breaks, there is the other intact weld to provide strength and stiffness of the panel 36.

The plurality of vertical wires 144 comprises wires that are vertically oriented and generally evenly spaced along the length of the panel 36. In the illustrated embodiment, the vertical wires 144 are generally parallel and defined a plane. The wires 144 extend from the lower pair of wires 152 to the upper pair of wires 150. In one non-limiting exemplary embodiment, the vertical wires 144 are spaced apart by a distance of about 1¾ inches and are formed from 4-gauge wire, the appearance of which is reflected in FIG. 11. In another non-limiting exemplary embodiment, the vertical wires 144 are spaced apart by about 4 inches, the appearance of which is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 1A. The vertical wires 144 can be made of a metal, plastic, or other similar material. For example, in one embodiment the vertical wires 144 are made from steel. Additionally, the spacing of the pairs of wires can be arranged to provide a unique aesthetic appearance. For example, the illustrated panel 36 including the closely spaced pairs of wires 144 provides a unique aesthetic appearance, in addition to the other advantages noted above.

In one embodiment, the vertical wires 144 are generally within a plane, such that the plurality of pairs of vertically spaced horizontal wires 140 can be attached to either side of the plurality of vertical wires 144. The wires can be treated to prolong the life of the wires. For example, the wires 140, 144 can be made of steel which is susceptible to rust. The wires 140, 144 can be covered in paint, polyester, or the like to prevent rusting.

As discussed above, the panel 136 can be made by welding the horizontal pairs of vertically spaced wires 140 to the wires 144. Preferably, the wires 140 are on one side of the vertical wires 144. In other embodiments, however, some of the pairs of spaced horizontal wires 144 can be on one side of the vertical wires 144 and other horizontal wires 140 are on the other side of the vertical wires 144. The panel 36 can be generally flat sheets which can be stacked for convenient storage and transport. The panels 36 can be generally rigid so that they can be easily moved during, for example, assembly and installation. The upper portion 151 and the lower portion 153 can slide along and within the channels (e.g., channel 94 of rail 32) of the rails because of the rigidity of the panel 36.

In one embodiment, the plurality of vertical wires 144 include the vertical wire 156 at one end of the panel 36 and a vertical wire 158 at the other end of the panel 36. With reference to FIGS. 1 and 5, the wires 156, 158 are between the body 44 and a portion of the brackets. For example, the wire 158 is held between the body 44 and the brackets 48, 50, 52. The upper end of the wire 158 is between a portion of the bracket 48 and the body 44, as shown in FIG. 5. The central portion of the wire 158 is between a portion of the bracket 50 and the body 44. The bracket 50 inhibits substantial movement of the wire 158 away from the body 44 and is disposed midway between the brackets 48, 52. The fastener passes through the bracket 50 and holds the vertical wire 158 between the fastener and the body 44. The lower end of the wire 158 is between a portion of the bracket 52 and the body 44. The post assembly 26 holds the wire 156 in a similar manner.

A further advantage is provided where the bracket 50 is attached to the panel 36 so as to be aligned with a pair of spaced horizontal wires 140, identified generally by the reference numeral 50A in FIG. 1A. For example, positioned as such, the bracket 50 engages the pair of wires 140, thereby enhancing the anchoring of the wires 140 relative to the post assembly 24. Preferably, at least one bracket 50, 50A is connected to the pair of horizontal wires 140 that is the third pair from the uppermost pair, this position being identified generally by the reference numeral 157, although the bracket 50, 50A is not illustrated in this position. Of course, the brackets 50, 50A can be installed in any combination of the illustrated positions, as well as, for example, at every set of horizontal pairs 140, alternating sets of pairs 140, or other arrangements.

Those skilled in the art recognize that various other types of panels can be used for the fencing system 20. For example, in one embodiment, the panel 36 consists of generally evenly spaced horizontal and vertical wires. In other embodiments, the panel 36 can be a mesh with non-orthogonal wires. Optionally, fasteners can be used to attach the vertical wires 144 to the horizontal wires 140 instead of or in addition to welding. The fasteners can be wire clips, wire brackets, plastic fasteners, and the like.

The panel 36 provides a strong barrier. Spaces between the vertical and horizontal wires provide for visibility through the fencing system 20. The pattern of the wires results in a stiff panel 36 that can withstand high loads without compromising the structural integrity of the fencing system 20.

FIG. 5 includes an enlarged illustration of the portion of the fencing system 20 identified by the line 5-5 in FIG. 1A. The post assembly 24 is coupled to the pair of rails 30, 31′ which slidably holds the panel 36, 36′, respectively. Thus, the post assembly 24 holds the rails 30, 30′ and the panels 36, 36′.

With reference to FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, the bracket 48 comprises the band 170 and a pair of clamp jaws 174, 176. The band 170, which has a generally square shape, can be coupled to the outer surface 66 of the body 44.

The jaw 174 has a face 196 that contacts one side of the rail 30 while the jaw 176 has a face 198 that contacts the other side of the rail 30 when the fastener 184 brings the jaws 174, 176 towards each other. In one embodiment, the fastener 184 pulls face 196 into contact with a pair of side wall 195 of the rail 30 (shown in FIG. 3A) and face 198 into contact with a side wall 197 of the rail 30.

A further advantage is provided where the jaws 174, 176 include a portion extending transversely to the band 170, as shown in FIG. 5. For example, such a transversely extending portion ensures a large contact area between the faces 196, 198 and the sides 195, 197 of the rail 30 to further secure the rail 30 in a desired location. The faces 196, 198 grip the sides 195, 197 and inhibit movement of the rail 30. Those skilled in the art recognize that the bracket 48 could have various other configurations and sizes.

With reference to FIG. 5, the bracket 48 attaches the post assembly 24 to the rail 30 and comprises a band 170, and clamps 174, 176. Each of the clamps 174, 176 has an opening 180, 182, respectively. A fastener 184 is disposed through the openings 180, 182, the panel 36, and the openings 186, 188 at the end 189 of the rail 30, which shown in FIG. 3A. The band 170 has an inner surface 183, as shown in FIG. 6, that contacts the outer surface 66 of the post assembly 24. The fastener 184 brings together the clamps 174, 176 so that the band 170 grips the body 44.

The bracket 48 also holds the panel 36 which is disposed within the rail 30. The vertical wire 158 is captured between the fastener 184 and the elongated body 44. Thus, the fastener 184 and the body 44 inhibit the horizontal movement of the panel 36. The fastener 184 can also limit the vertical movement of the panel 36 because the fastener 184 is located between the pair of wires 150. The pair of wires 150 has an upper wire 190 and a lower wire 192 and the fastener 184 is located between the wires 190, 192. Thus, the fastener 184 is located between the wires 190, 192, and the vertical wire 158 is located between the fastener 184 and the body 44 to inhibit both the vertical and horizontal movement of the panel 36.

The bracket 48 holds the rail 30, which, in turn, limits the movement of the panel 36. The rail 30 prevents the movement of the panel 36 in the upward direction. The sides of the rail 30 limit the lateral movement of the panel 36.

Additionally, the transversely extending portions of the clamps 174, 176 allow the brackets 48, 200 to be nested together, as shown in FIG. 5. The brackets 48, 200 can be similar or identical and are used to hold rails on either side of the post 24. The manufacturing cost for the fencing system 20 can be reduced because at least two of the brackets of the post 24 can be similar or identical. Further, the fencing system 20 can be conveniently assembled by using similar brackets. In the illustrated embodiment, the bracket 48 is oriented so that the transversely extending portion extends downwardly. The bracket 200 is oriented so that the transversely extending portion extends upwardly. The bands 170, 206 of the brackets 48, 200, respectively, can be proximally disposed so that the rails 30, 30′ are at the same height above the ground.

With continued reference to FIG. 5 and FIG. 3A, the rail 30 is oriented so that the opening 199 is at the lower portion of the rail 30 so that the panel 36 can be disposed and within the channel 201 of the rail 30. A portion of the upper portion 151 of the panel 36 is between the side 203, 205. Preferably, the pair of wires 150 is slidably disposed between the sides 203, 205 of the rail 30.

The post assembly 24 has the bracket 200 that is attached to an end 202 of rail 30′. The bracket 200 is oriented such that the clamps 204 extend in the upward direction. The clamp 200 has the band 206 that is adjacent and below the band 170. The bands 170, 206 can be closely spaced together with longitudinal axes that are coaxial.

A further advantage is provided where the panel 36 is engaged with at least one of the rails 30, 32. For example, FIG. 7 illustrates the lower portion 153 of the panel 36 held in the rail 32 by a retainer 210. The lower portion 153 has a pair of wires 212, 214 located within the channel 112 and is slidably disposed within the rail 32.

The wires 212, 214 are connected to the vertical wire 144. The wire 214 is captured between the retainer 210 and the bottom 86 of the rail 32 to inhibit the vertical and lateral movement of the wire 214, thereby inhibiting the movement of the panel 36. That is, the retainer 210 limits the movement of the panel 36 in both the vertical direction and in the lateral or transverse direction towards either wall 104 or wall 110. The post assemblies 24, 26 inhibits movement of the panel 36 in a direction parallel to the rails 30, 32.

The wire 212 can be located above the wire 214 and can be located between the walls 104, 110. The wires 212, 214 are attached, preferably welded, to one side of the plurality of vertical wires 144.

A further advantage is provided where the retainer 210 and the panel 36 can slide along the rail 32. As such, the retainer 210 can slidably contact the rail 32 and limit movement of the panel 36 while it slides along the rail 32. The retainer 210 and the panel 36 are conveniently removably coupled to the rails 30, 32. For example, the retainer 210 and a portion of the panel 36 can be slid along the rails 30, 32 to assemble or disassemble the fencing system 20. Thus, the retainer 210 and panel 36 can be rapidly coupled to the rails 30, 32 without the use of tools or threaded fasteners which require additional labor to install and remove.

Further, retainers 210 can be conveniently added or removed to fencing system 20. For example, the retainers 210 and the panel 36 can be slidably removed from the rails 30, 32, and then the retainers 210 can be added or removed form the panel 36. The retainers 210 and the panel 36 can then be re-inserted and slid along the rails 30, 32 to couple the panel 36 to the rails 30, 32.

With reference to FIG. 7 and FIG. 8, the retainer 210 can include walls 220, 222, 224, an angled body 228, and a slot 230. In the illustrated embodiment, the walls 220, 222, 224 are substantially parallel and the retainer 210 has a generally M-shaped cross-section.

The wall 220 includes an outer surface 226 and edge 130. The bottom portion of the wall 220 is connected to the angle body 228 and contacts the bottom 86 of the rail 32, when the retainer 210 is within the rail 32. The wall 220 is configured and sized to fit within a portion of the channel 112. In one embodiment, the wall 220 is disposed within the lower channel 102 so that the outer surface 226 of the wall 220 can slide along the surface 103 of channel 102. The wall 220 is between the sides of the channel 102 which inhibits vertical movement of the retainer 210.

The wall 222 includes an outer surface 229 and edge 236. The bottom portion of the wall 222 is connected to the angle body 228 and contacts the bottom 86, when the retainer 210 is within the rail 32. The wall 222 is configured and sized to fit within the channel 112. In one embodiment, the wall 222 is disposed within the lower channel 102 of the channel 112 so that the outer surface 229 of the wall 220 can slide along the surface 103 of channel 102. The wall 222 is between the sides of the channel 102 which inhibits vertical movement of the retainer 210. Thus, the walls 222, 226 both can be slidably disposed within the channel 102.

The wall 224 includes an outer surface 243 and the edge 244. The bottom portion of the wall 224 is connected to the angled body 228 and can contact the bottom 86. The wall 224 is configured and sized to fit within the lower channel 108 so that the outer surface 243 can slide along the surface 109 of the channel 108. The channel 108 limits the vertical movement of the retainer 210. The edges 230, 236, 244 can engage with the lower channels 102, 108 to prevent movement of the panel 36 away from the bottom 86 of the rail 32. The bottom 86 prevents movement of the wire 214 away from the retainer 210. Thus, the wire 214 is captured between the retainer 210 and the bottom 86. In one embodiment, the retainer 210 holds the wire 214 against the bottom 86.

The surfaces 103, 109 of the rail 32 limit the lateral movement of the retainer 210. The retainer 210 and the bottom 86 can be spaced apart to allow for limited vertical and lateral movement of the wire 214.

With reference to FIGS. 8 and 9, the slot 230 can include a curved end 232 and a pair of edges 234, 236. The slot 230 is between the walls 220, 222 and extends from one side of the retainer 210 to a central portion of the retainer 210.

The curved end 232 is located in one side 240 of the angled body 228. The edge 234 extends from the curved end 232 to one side of the wall 220 and the edge 236 extends from the curved end 232 to one side of the wall 222. Thus, the slot 230 extends from walls 220, 222 through a side 242 and into the side 240 of the angled body 228.

The edges 234, 236 can be spaced apart so that the vertical wire 144 can be passed into and along the slot 230. In one embodiment, the edges 234, 236 are substantially parallel so that the vertical wire 144 can be passed between the walls 220, 222 and along the slot 230 to a position near the curved end 232, as shown in FIG. 9. Thus, the distance between the edges 236, 234 should be greater than the diameter of the vertical wires 144. In one non-limiting exemplary embodiment, the vertical wires have a diameter of 0.225 inches and the edges 236, 234 are separated by a distance greater than 0.225 inches.

The angled body 228 has the pair of sides 240, 242, which are connected and form an angle α. As shown in FIG. 7, the angled body 228 captures the horizontal wire 214 between the bottom 86 and the sides 240, 242. The sides 240, 242 can contact the wire 214 to inhibit vertical and lateral movement the panel 36.

A further advantage is provided where the angle α can be varied depending on the diameter of the wire 214. For example, the angle α can be increased to accommodate the wire 214 with a small diameter. One of ordinary skill in art can determine the appropriate configuration of retainer 210 to capture the wire 214 in the rail 32.

The pair of sides 242 of the body 228 connects the walls 220, 222 to the side 240. In the illustrated embodiment, the pair of sides 242 are generally rectangular and coplanar and are located on either side of the slot 230.

The side 240 is connected to the pair of sides 242 and the wall 224. One side of the side 240 is connected to the pair of sides 242 and defines the curved end 232 of the slot 230. The other side of the side 240 is coupled to wall 224.

As described above, the sides 242, 240 of the angled body 228 are on either side of the wire 214 and inhibit the movement of the wire 214. The curved end 232 can surround and contact the wire 140 (see FIG. 9) to prevent movement of the wire 140 in the lateral direction. Thus, the movement of the panel 36 towards either wall 104 or wall 110 of the rail 32 is inhibited by the sides 242, 240 which engage and contact the wire 214.

The retainer 210 can be made of material suitable for sliding along the rails. Preferably, the material has sufficient strength to inhibit the movement of the panel 36. In one non-limiting exemplary embodiment, the retainer 210 can withstand a force of greater than 200 lbs. The retainer 210, for example, can be made out of metal, plastic, or the like. In one embodiment, the retainer 210 is made of sheet metal steel that is bent into shape. In one non-limiting exemplary embodiment, the retainer 210 holds the panel 36 in the rail when a 299 lbs. pulling force is applied to the panel 36.

FIG. 10 illustrates a portion of the panel 36 and the retainer 210 within the rail 32. The panel 36 and the retainer 210 can be slid along the rail 32 in the direction of the arrows. The retainer 210 is slidably disposed in the rail 32 and can move along the rail 32 as the panel 36 moves. As the panel 36 moves along the rail 32, the side of the vertical Wire 144 contacts either the edge 134 or the edge 136 and pushes the retainer 210 along the lower channels 102, 108. The vertical wire 144 extends from and can slide along the opening 96 as the retainer 210 and panel 36 slide along the rail 32.

With reference to FIG. 11, a fencing system 300 has the post assemblies 24, 26, rails 30, 32 and a panel 302. The panel 302 comprises a plurality of wires 304 and a plurality of pairs of vertically spaced horizontal wires 305. The distance between the vertical wires 304 of the panel 302 is less than the distance between the wires 144 of panel 36 shown in FIG. 4.

A further advantage is provided where the panel 302 can be installed in the rails 30, 32 in a similar manner as panel 36. Further, the same number of retainers 210 can be used to assemble the panel 36 or the panel 302 and the rails 30, 32. For example, one retainer 210 can be disposed within rail 32 midway between the post assemblies 24, 26 of the FIG. 1 and FIG. 11.

In a preferred embodiment, a plurality of retainers 210a, 210b, 210c can be used to secure the panel 36 to the rails 30, 32, as shown in FIG. 1. The retainers 210a, 210b, 210c can be similar or identical to the retainer 210. The retainer 210a surrounds the vertical wire 158 and holds the wire 214 in the rail 32. The retainer 210b holds surrounds a vertical wire midway between the wires 156, 158 and holds the wire 214 in the rail 32. The retainer 210c surrounds the vertical wire 156 and holds the wire 214 in the rail 32. The retainers 210a, 210b, 210c inhibit movement of the panel 36 and allow the panel 36 to move in the horizontal direction along the rail 32. Those skilled in the art recognize that different numbers of retainers 210 can be used and located at various locations along the panel 36 and the rails 30, 32.

As discussed above, the retainer 210 allows for convenient assembly of the fencing system 20. The panel 36 and the retainer 210 can be easily slid into the rails. To attach the panel 36 to the rail 32, the retainer 210 can be attached to the lower portion 153 of the panel 36 and placed into the channels 102, 108 at the end of the rail 32, as shown in FIG. 7.

The retainer 210 and the panel 36 are slidably engaged in the rail 32 and can move along the rail 32, as shown in FIG. 10. As the panel 36 moves along the rail 32, the side of the vertical wire 144 contacts either the edge 134 or the edge 136 and pushes the retainer 210 along the lower channels 102, 108. The vertical wire 144 and the retainer 210 move together and the retainer 210 captures the wire 214 which can slide along the bottom 86. Thus, the panels 36 can be rapidly and conveniently slid into the rail 32 and the panel 36 cannot be moved out of the rail 32 because the retainer 210 holds the wire 214 within the rail 32. The panel 36 can be attached to the rail 30 in a similar manner.

In yet another embodiment, the panel 36 is disposed in the rails 30, 32 without the use of the retainer 210. The portions 151, 153 of the panel 36 can be inserted into the channel 94. The sides 80, 82 of the rail 32 limit the movement of the panel 36 in the lateral or transverse directions. An advantage is provided where the panel 36 can be rapidly inserted into and removed from the rails 30, 32.

With reference to FIG. 1A and FIG. 12, there are various configurations of the fencing system 20. For example, as shown in FIG. 1A, the longitudinal axis of rails 30, 30′ are generally coaxial and the longitudinal axis of the rails 32, 32′ are generally coaxial, such that the panels 36, 36′ are coplanar. With reference to FIG. 12, the fencing system 20 has sections 22, 22′ that are vertically offset to accommodate angled ground 38.

The sections 22, 22′ can be within a plane or can be at an angle to each other. For example, the post assembly 24 can be the corner post so that the panels 36, 36′ are generally perpendicular to each other.

In operation, to assemble the fencing system 20, the post assemblies 24, 26 can be spaced apart and driven or placed into the ground. The brackets 48, 50, 52 can be slid onto the post 24. The brackets 200, 202, and 124 can be slid onto the post 26. The end caps 140 can be placed on the top of the post assemblies 24, 26.

Retainers 210 can be used to secure the upper portion 151 to the rail 30 and/or the lower portion 153 to the rail 32. The retainer 210 is attached to the panel 36 by passing a portion of the vertical wire 144, which is between either the pair of wires 150 or 152, into the slot 320. The retainer 210 is slide into the channel 112, and the panel 36 is disposed within the channel 94 and passes through the opening 96. Additional retainers 210 can be attached to the panel 36 as the panel 36 is slid into the rail.

The rails 30, 32, which are slidably attached to the panel 36 are coupled to the post assemblies 24, 26, as shown in FIG. 1. The rail 30 is attached to the brackets 48, 200, and the rail 32 is attached to the brackets 52, 124. The brackets 48, 200, 52, 124 hold the rails 30, 32, which in turn surround and limit movement of the panel 36.

A further advantage is provided where the brackets 50, 202 can inhibit movement of the panel 36. The brackets 50, 202 can surround and hold the vertical wires 158, 156, respectively. For example, the brackets 50, 202 can prevent bowing of the panel 36 away from the posts 24, 26, respectively.

The disassembly of the fencing system 20 is also further simplified with the use of the retainers 210. For example, the fencing system 20 can be disassembled by removing the fasteners from the brackets 48, 200 and brackets 52, 124 holding the rails 30, 32, respectively. The rails 30, 32 and panel 36 can be removed from the post assemblies 24, 26. The rails 30, 32 can be removed from the panel 36 by sliding the rails 30, 32 relative to the panel 36. The retainer 210 and panel 36 can slide together along and out one end of the rails 30, 32. Because the fencing system 20 can be conveniently assembled and dissembled, the rails, panels, retainers, fasteners, and brackets can be easily replaced.

The steps for assembling and disassembling the fencing system 20 can be performed in various orders and can be modified. The steps, for example, can be performed simultaneously or independently. In one preferred method of assembly, the panel 36 and a first retainer 210 and second retainer 210 are simultaneously slid into both the rails 30, 32, respectively. In another method of assembly, the panel 36 and retainers 210 are slid into the rail 30 and then the panel 36 and another retainers 210 are slid into the rail 32.

A further advantage is provided where the panel 36 and retainers 210 can slide relative to the rails 30, 32 after the fencing system 20 is assembled. The panel 36 and retainers 210 can slide until the panel 36 and/or the retainer 210 contacts the post assemblies 24, 26. This movement provides flexibility to the fencing system 20 so that the system 20 can move without breaking. For example, this flexibility can prevent the breaking of the fencing system 20 during an earthquake.

As discussed above, a plurality of retainers 210 can be used to couple the lower portion 153 and/or the upper portion 151 to the rails 32, 30, respectively. For example, each of the vertical wires 144 can be surrounded by the retainer 210 or several of the vertical wires 144 can be surrounded by retainers 210 which are within the rails 30 or 32. The retainers 210 ensure that the panel 36 is slidably engaged with the rails 30, 32, thereby allowing for convenient assembly.

The fencing system 20 can be coated with materials such as paint, plastic, or the like, for example, to inhibit corrosion of the system 20. In one embodiment, the fencing system 20 is coated with colored polyester. Some or all of the components of the fencing system 20 can be galvanized to further inhibit corrosion. Of course, the galvanized components can be coated with materials, such as polyester.

While particular forms of the invention have been described, it will be apparent that various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.