Title:
Boat lift canopy assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat lift canopy comprises a truss type framework with a base frame. Joined to the base frame and circumscribed by it is a tie tube frame, which may be discontinuous. A fabric cover, which in preferred embodiments is decorative as well as functional, snugly encloses the outside of the framework, wraps around the base frame and is secured to the tie tube frame. The boat lift canopy is held above the boat lift vertical members, which in some embodiments are vertical extensions of the legs of the boat lift. Advantageously, the canopy is releasably coupled to the vertical members at the tie tube frame, thereby enabling simple adjustment of the position of the canopy with respect to the vertical members, permitting adjustment of canopy overhang or length with ease. Embodiments of the canopy allow adjustment of the length of the canopy by the addition of frame members extending the canopy framework, such adjustment facilitated by the releasable coupling of the canopy to the vertical members. The framework of the canopy employs an improved truss design such as Howe Kingpost to maximize framework strength, thereby enhancing endurance of the canopy and permitting substantial cantilevered canopy overhangs.



Inventors:
Basta, Samuel T. (Bellevue, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/845372
Publication Date:
11/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/13/2004
Assignee:
IPO L.L.C. (Bellevue, WA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C5/00; E04H15/34; E04H15/42; B63B17/02; (IPC1-7): E04H15/34; E04H15/42
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACKSON, DANIELLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANTHONY CLAIBORNE (BELLEVUE, WA, US)
Claims:
1. A framework for boat lift canopies, comprising: a truss type outer framework comprising a polygonal base; a tie bar framework affixed to and circumscribed by the polygonal base; and a plurality of vertical upright leg members joined to the tie bar framework, retaining the canopy above the boat lift.

2. A canopy for boat lifts, comprising: a truss type outer framework comprising a polygonal base; a tie bar framework affixed to and circumscribed by the polygonal base; a plurality of vertical upright leg members joined to the tie bar framework, retaining the canopy above the boat lift; and a cover wrapped around the outer framework and under the polygonal base.

3. A canopy according to claim 2, wherein the cover is secured to the tie bar framework.

4. A canopy according to claim 2, wherein the leg members are releaseably joined to the tie bar framework.

5. A canopy according to claim 2, wherein the leg members are extensions of legs on a boat lift.

6. A canopy according to claim 2, wherein the truss type outer framework further comprises sections that may be inserted and removed to adjust the length of the canopy.

7. A canopy according to claim 2, wherein the truss type outer framework comprises a Howe Kingpost truss.

8. A canopy for boat lifts, comprising: a truss type outer framework comprising a base of base members; an inner tie portion retained within the outer framework and displaced from the base members; substantially vertical leg members; means for joining the leg members to the canopy at the tie portion; and a cover wrapped around the outer framework.

9. A canopy according to claim 8, wherein the leg members are releaseably joined to the tie portion.

10. A canopy according to claim 8, wherein the cover is secured to the tie portion.

11. A canopy according to claim 8, wherein the inner tie portion is integral to extruded base members.

12. A canopy for boat lifts, comprising: a truss type outer framework comprising a rectangular base; a tie bar framework affixed to and circumscribed by the rectangular base; a plurality of vertical upright leg members releaseably joined to the tie bar framework, retaining the canopy above the boat lift; and a cover wrapped around the outer framework and under the polygonal base and secured to the tie bar framework.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to truss type framework canopies to provide shelter for boats. More particularly, this invention relates to an improved canopy structure mounted above a boat lift.

2. Description of the Related Art

Users of watercraft have need to shelter docked boats from the elements. While boat houses can provide such shelter, they are expensive and often impractical. Users of watercraft also have need to lift their watercraft from the water, for example for maintenance or in preparation for land transportation of the watercraft, along with a need to lower their watercraft into the water, for example for launching or simply for flotation at dock. Answering such needs, the prior art has provided lift devices employed to raise and lower watercraft with canopies to protect the watercraft from the elements while the watercraft is docked at or engaged by the lift.

Typical of boat lift canopies in the prior art is the canopy claimed and described by Griffith in U.S. Pat. No. 5,573,026. Framework for such canopies generally comprises prefabricated parts of galvanized steel or aluminum tubing. The canopy is assembled as a truss type frame, typically an “A” frame, which is affixed to the boat lift and covered with a water tight and sunlight resistant decorative canopy cover of durable fabric material, such as canvas, which is pulled taught against frame elements and affixed to the frame.

Examining prior art canopy construction in more detail, the Nieman Deluxe Canopy, manufactured by Sierra Manufacturing Company of Monroe, Wash., and the similar canopy manufactured as the Sunstream Deluxe Canopy by Sunstream Corporation of Kent, Wash., may be exemplary. An “A” frame is constructed, comprised of a rectangular base to which are joined a number of rafters angled upward, each joining a ridgepole along its length, the ridgepole thereby forming the apex of the “A” frame. Disposed within the “A” frame toward its base, and joined therewith, is a rectangular tie tube frame, of dimensions somewhat smaller than the dimensions of the “A” frame base, so that the “A” frame base circumscribes the tie tube frame on all sides at a distance of 2 to 6 inches or so. Frame sections may be joined by telescoping engagement, in some cases by way of junction pieces fabricated for such purpose; alternatively, frame sections may be joined by welding.

In any case, in such exemplary prior art, the cover material is affixed to the canopy frame by stretching the material over the entire frame, folding the material over and around the rectangular base of the canopy frame, and then tying the edges of the cover, preferably through grommets disposed therein, within the canopy frame to the tie tube frame.

The canopy is fixed above the boat lift on vertical legs rising above the lift, which are most commonly simply extensions of the legs of the boat lift itself. In the prior art, the vertical legs are joined to the canopy at points along members of the rectangular base of the canopy frame. Typically, a hole is drilled in the rectangular base member at each point meeting a leg and a screw or bolt is inserted and secured through such hole into the leg or a junction piece affixed or integral thereto, thereby securing the canopy to the leg. Alternatively, the rectangular base member is welded to the leg or a junction piece for the leg.

Such prior art design of boat lift canopies presents several significant shortcomings. Because the cover fabric wraps around the rectangular base members, it would be desirable for the base members to present an unbroken smooth surface about which the fabric can wrap. Unless, however, screws or bolts securing the base members to the legs are counter-sunk in some manner, their ends present protrusions in the surface of the member, to the detriment of both the aesthetics of the wrapped canopy cover and the integrity of its fabric.

Even when the base member is secured in a fashion that does not present protrusions, such as by counter-sinking screws or by welding, the cover cannot wrap around the member where the member is joined to the leg unless the cover is between the member and the leg. Limiting the cover so that it does not wrap around the member at leg junctions, as when the members are welded to the legs, has the result either of requiring specially tailored, non-rectangular covers, at considerable expense, or permitting only incomplete wrapping of the base members with the cover fabric, reducing the aesthetic appeal of the cover. If, on the other hand, the cover is wrapped between the member and the leg, a screw, bolt or similar fastener joining the leg to the member must pass through the cover fabric, diminishing the integrity of the fabric and preventing removal or replacement of the cover without disassembling the canopy from the legs.

A further limitation of the prior art boat lift canopy is that it is often desirable to change the length of a canopy, as when, for example, the lift is used for a boats of a different length. Further, it is often desirable to adjust the position of the canopy with respect to the legs, adjusting for more or less overhang on one side of the lift depending upon the needs for providing shelter for docked watercraft. As is clear from the foregoing description, however, the prior art canopy is not easily moved with respect to the legs. In the case of canopies secured to the legs by screws, the screws must be removed, new screw holes drilled in the base members, the canopy moved and then the screws reinserted. In the case of canopies secured to the legs by welding, it often is simply not possible at all to move the canopy with respect to the legs after the canopy is attached.

A further limitation of the prior art boat lift canopy is that, in general, it is not designed to maximize the structural integrity possible in truss type framework structures. Long unsupported overhangs, which have become increasingly popular, require that the canopy possess considerable structural strength and rigidity. However, many prior art canopies simply do not possess sufficient strength for long cantilevered overhangs.

What is needed is a boat lift canopy that has base frame members presenting an unbroken smooth surface about which the fabric can wrap. What is further needed is a way of mounting the canopy to the legs that does not interfere with the wrapped fabric. What is further needed is a way of mounting the canopy to the legs that permits the canopy to be easily resized or moved with respect to the legs. What is yet further needed is a canopy design with the foregoing features that also maximizes the canopy's structural integrity, so that it is suitable for long overhangs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a boat lift canopy, comprising a truss type framework with a base frame that may be rectangular. Joined to the base frame and circumscribed by it is a tie tube frame, which may be discontinuous. A fabric cover, which in preferred embodiments is decorative as well as finctional, snugly encloses the outside of the framework, wraps around the base frame and is secured to the tie tube frame. The boat lift canopy is held above the boat lift by vertical members, which in some embodiments are vertical extensions of the legs of the boat lift. Advantageously, the canopy is releasably coupled to the vertical members at the tie tube frame, thereby enabling simple adjustment of the position of the canopy with respect to the vertical members, permitting adjustment of canopy overhang or length with ease. Embodiments of the canopy allow adjustment of the length of the canopy by the addition of frame members extending the canopy framework, such adjustment facilitated by the releasable coupling of the canopy to the vertical members. The framework of the canopy employs an improved truss design such as Howe Kingpost to maximize framework strength, thereby enhancing endurance of the canopy and permitting substantial cantilevered canopy overhangs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects, advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods, operation and function of related elements of structure, and the combination of parts and economies of deployment, will become apparent upon consideration of the following description and claims with reference to the accompanying drawing, which forms a part of this specification, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention in conjunction with a boat lift;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the frame base of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an illustration of a manner of securing the tie bars to base frame members;

FIG. 4 is an illustration of the truss structure of embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a coupling joining ridgepole sections with rigid perpendicular rafters;

FIG. 6 illustrates an embodiment of coupling between angled rafters and ridgepole or base members; and

FIG. 7 illustrates a means of coupling the canopy to upright members.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Turning now to FIG. 1, depicted is an embodiment of the present invention. Canopy 102 sits over a watercraft lift 104. Lift 104 may be any form of watercraft lift designed to be affixed to the bottom of a body of water, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,908,264 to Hey or U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,914, issued to the inventor of the present invention and which is incorporated herein by reference. Alternatively, lift 104 may be a floating lift as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,485,798 to Samoian et al., or U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/816,992 by the inventor of the present invention, incorporated herein by reference.

Canopy 102 is suspended above lift 104 by upright members 106. Lifts affixed to the bottom of the body of water, such as '264 and '914 cited above, generally sit upon legs 108, and in such case upright members 106 may simply be vertical extensions of legs 108. Alternatively, members 106 may be affixed to some other part of lift 104, or members 106 themselves may be affixed to the bottom of the body of water. In any case, as will be described in more detail below in reference to FIG. 7 below, upright members 106 are joined to canopy 102, fixedly holding it above lift 104.

Canopy 102 is constructed as a truss type framework, comprised of a rectangular base of horizontal members 110, to which are joined rafters 112, which angle upward to be joined along ridgepole 114, thereby forming an “A” frame. As is clear to those of skill in the art, while a rectangular base is illustrated, and while generally rectangular canopies are common in the prior art, polygonal shapes in general, whether regular or not, may be employed for the base of the canopy, including triangles, squares, rectangles, rhomboids, hexagons, etc. It will be understood that the present invention encompasses all such bases.

Turning to FIG. 2, depicted are details of the construction of the base of the canopy according to the present invention. In FIG. 2a, the base comprises a frame 202 of parallel lengthwise members 204 joined to parallel widthwise members 206, thereby forming a rectangle. The present invention comprises a tie portion that lies interior to the frame base. In the depicted embodiment, tie bars 208 are held within the frame, adjacently spaced and parallel to members, by connectors 210, treated in more detail in reference to FIG. 3 below.

Advantageously, embodiments of the present invention may implement lengthwise members 204 as a plurality of members with connected tie portions (tie bars in the depicted embodiment), members 204 releasably joined as by telescoping, so that the length of frame 202 may be modified by adding or removing lengthwise members. As illustrated, lengthwise member 204 comprises two sections, 204a and 204b, telescopically engaged by retaining bolts, crimp bolts, locking clamps or other means well known to those of skill in the art.

As illustrated in FIG. 2b, telescoping members 204a and 204b have been decoupled and the length of frame 202 increased by insertion thereinbetween of extension members 204c, connected to their own tie bar sections 208. As will be clear to those of skill in the art, this design facilitates adjustment of canopy length, which can take place dockside.

Turning now to the connectors joining the tie bars to the rectangular base of the canopy, FIG. 3 depicts tie bar 302 firmly welded to “L” bracket connector 304, which is in turn affixed to frame member 306, as depicted by rivets 308. The fabric cover of the canopy will wrap around and under member 306, so that its edges may be tied to tie bar 302. Accordingly, the spacing between tie bar 302 and member 306 is such that there is sufficient room to pull the cover under member 306 and tie its edge securely to tie bar 302. A spacing on the order of 4 inches or so is sufficient for this purpose, but, as will be clear to those of skill in the art, embodiments may be constructed of widely varying spacing between frame members and tie bars that are within the scope of this invention.

Many other ways of achieving the result of spacing a tie area inward from the rectangular base of the canopy will be evident to those of skill in the art. For example, members of rectangular base may be extruded with an integral tie portion that lies interior to the assembled base. It is intended that all such embodiments, wherein a tie portion is interior to the canopy frame, be within the scope of the present invention.

Turning now to the preferred construction of the truss type framework of the canopy, FIG. 4a depicts a rectangular base portion 402, shown here comprised of members 402a and 402b telescopically joined as discussed previously in reference to FIG. 2. Joined to base 402 are rafters 404, angled upward to join along ridgepole 406. As depicted, ridgepole 406 is shown here comprised of two joined sections, 406a and 406b. Advantageously, extending perpendicularly upward from base 402 is rigid rafter 408, which joins ridgepole 406 at coupling 410, discussed in greater detail in reference to FIG. 5 below. In preferred embodiments, rafter 408 may be of a heavier-weight stock than that employed for rafters 404. As will be clear to those of skill in the art, the framework as depicted and described forms a truss of the Howe Kingpost pattern, a truss design vastly superior in strength to that employed in the prior art considered herein. Because of its ability to handle forces of compression and tension, such design is much better adapted than the prior art to cantilevered applications, such as long unsupported overhangs.

As discussed earlier in reference to FIG. 2, the base of the frame may be comprised of a plurality of telescopically joined sections permitting adjustment of the length of the frame. In FIGS. 4a and 4b, sections 402a and 402b represent such joined sections of the frame base. Corresponding to 402a and 402b are sections 406a and 406b of ridgepole 406, depicted as joined in FIG. 4a by coupling 410. Turning to FIG. 4b, when the length of base 402 is extended by the addition of a section 402c between 402a and 402b, ridgepole 406 may be extended by the addition of a section 406c between ridgepole sections 406a and 406b. Now two couplings 410a and 410b are used to join the ridgepole sections 406a, 406c and 406b, with two rigid perpendicular rafters 408a and 408b. Two additional angled rafters 412 are added to complete the truss.

Turning now to the couplings used to join ridgepole sections with rigid perpendicular rafters, FIG. 5 depicts a preferred form of such coupling. Coupling 502 is comprised of three appropriately cut sections of rectangular bar welded together to make a cruciform shape with two arms extending downward at an angle as depicted in FIG. 5a. Holes are drilled at appropriate points in coupling 502 so that, turning to FIG. 5b, ridgepole sections 504a and 504b and rigid perpendicular rafters 506a and 506b may be secured to the coupling telescopically by bolts 508 passing through such holes, secured by nuts.

As will be clear to those of skill in the art, angled rafters may be secured to frame base members and to the ridgepole in any number of ways. FIG. 6 depicts an embodiment wherein angled rafter 602 is pivotally connected to an angle bracket 604 with a bolt (not depicted), the angle bracket riveted to ridgepole 606. While certain embodiments have been depicted, all other means of securing the rafters to other members known to those of skill in the art, whereby the rafters provide truss strength to the canopy framework, are intended to be within the scope of this invention.

Turning now to the means of coupling the canopy to the upright members, the present invention advantageously does so by way of the tie portion of the canopy rather than by way of the base frame members as practiced in the prior art. In FIG. 7a, the coupling is inserted into upright member 702, which, as stated earlier, may simply be an extension of a boat lift leg for some embodiments of the invention. In this embodiment, the coupling comprises a telescoping upright pipe 704 welded to a section of stock rectangular bar 706, cut at an angle on one end. Welded to the top of bar 706 is half pipe 708, disposed to receive the tie bar. As depicted in FIG. 7b, tie bar 710 rests in half pipe 708, advantageously releasably secured by clamp 712, which may be a hose clamp or other suitable clamp known to those of skill in the art. As illustrated in FIG. 7c, tie bar 710 is spaced a distance from frame base member 714 by “L” bracket 716, as previously described in reference to FIG. 3. Because coupling 706 connects to the tie bar rather than directly to the frame base, frame base member 714 is clear of coupling 706 and the upright member 704, permitting the canopy cover to wrap unimpeded around base member 714 for securing and tying to tie bar 710.

As will be clear to those of skill in the art, many other means of coupling the tie portion of the canopy to upright supporting members are possible while in keeping with the spirit of the present invention. If, for example, the upright members are disposed directly below the tie area, the cantilevered coupling depicted in FIG. 7 is not necessary, a simpler support directly below the tie area sufficing to achieve the desired coupling. The invention requires only that the coupling of the upright members be to the tie portion, preferably releaseably, so that in any case the fabric may wrap around the frame base members unimpeded by coupling with the upright members.

Conclusions, Ramifications and Scope

Accordingly, it can be seen that the invention described herein provides an improved boat lift canopy, allowing fabric to be wrapped unimpeded around the canopy framework, providing embodiments whose length and overhang is easily adjusted, with a truss framework of improved strength allowing substantial cantilevered overhangs.

Although the detailed descriptions above contain many specifics, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. Various other embodiments and ramifications are possible within its scope, a number of which are discussed in general terms above. It is intended that the scope of the present invention encompass all means known to those of skill in the art for practicing the invention according to its teachings.

While the invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it should be recognized that elements thereof may be altered by persons skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications and equivalents as can be reasonably included within the scope of the invention. The invention is limited only by the following claims and their equivalents.