Title:
Composite lintel system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A composite lintel structure is disclosed for spanning openings in a building structure and for supporting building materials thereon. The composite lintel structure has a vertical leg for affixation to a building structure and a horizontal leg for placement of one or more courses of building materials thereon. The materials of construction of the lintel structure are preferably selected from composites that are moisture impermeable and corrosion resistant. The lintel structure may also comprise one or more stiffeners rigidly or adjustably attached between the horizontal and vertical legs to accommodate load transference from the horizontal leg to the vertical leg of the lintel structure.



Inventors:
Smith, Earl (Virginia Beach, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/874607
Publication Date:
12/29/2005
Filing Date:
06/23/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C3/02; E04C3/29; E04C3/38; (IPC1-7): E04C3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CAJILIG, CHRISTINE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David J. Bolduc (Virginia Beach, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A lintel member for spanning an opening in a building structure and supporting building materials thereon, comprising: a vertical leg having a top portion and a bottom portion and a front face and a back face; and a horizontal leg having a front portion and a back portion and a top face and a bottom face; said vertical leg bottom portion being rigidly affixed to said horizontal leg back portion, thereby defining a substantially L-shaped bracket; and load transference means connected between said horizontal leg and said vertical leg; and wherein said vertical leg is configured to be attached to an underlying building structure; and wherein said horizontal leg is configured to support building materials thereon; and wherein said load transference means is configured to transfer a load exerted on said horizontal leg by said building materials through said load transference means to said vertical leg and said underlying building structure; and wherein the material of construction of said vertical leg and horizontal leg comprises a corrosion resistant, moisture impermeable thermoplastic material.

2. A lintel member according to claim 1, wherein said load transference means comprises: a substrate having a vertical portion between said front and back faces of said vertical leg and a horizontal portion between said top and bottom faces of said horizontal leg; and wherein a bottom portion of said vertical portion of said substrate is rigidly connected to a back portion of said horizontal portion of said substrate; and wherein said substrate is configured to transfer a load exerted on said horizontal leg by said building materials through said horizontal portion of said substrate to said vertical portion of said substrate and to said vertical leg and said underlying building structure.

3. A lintel member holder according to claim 1, wherein said load transference means comprises: a stiffener attached between said horizontal leg and said vertical leg of said lintel member; said stiffener comprising a substantially triangular member having a back edge, a bottom edge, a diagonal edge, and left and right side faces; said back edge of said stiffener being adapted to be attached to said front face of said vertical leg; said bottom edge of said stiffener being adapted to be attached to said horizontal leg.

4. A lintel member according to claim 2, wherein said load transference means further comprises: a stiffener attached between said horizontal leg and said vertical leg of said lintel member; said stiffener comprising a substantially triangular member having a back edge, a bottom edge, a diagonal edge, and left and right side faces; said back edge of said stiffener being adapted to be attached to said front face of said vertical leg; said bottom edge of said stiffener being adapted to be attached to said horizontal leg.

5. A lintel member according to claim 4, wherein said substrate further comprises: a substrate diagonal portion between said side faces of said stiffener; wherein said diagonal portion of said substrate is rigidly connected to said vertical portion and said horizontal portion of said substrate; and wherein said horizontal portion of said substrate is configured to transfer a load exerted on said horizontal leg by said building materials through said horizontal portion of said substrate to said vertical portion of said substrate and to said vertical leg and said underlying building structure.

6. A lintel member according to claim 1, further comprising: at least one weep hole extending through from said top surface to said bottom surface of said horizontal leg for allowing drainage of moisture from said top surface to said bottom surface of said horizontal leg.

7. A lintel member according to claim 2, further comprising: at least one weep hole extending through from said top surface to said bottom surface of said horizontal leg and said horizontal portion of said substrate for allowing drainage of moisture from said top surface to said bottom surface of said horizontal leg; wherein said at least one weep hole through said substrate has a peripheral surface covered by said thermoplastic material.

8. A lintel member according to claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of affixation holes extending through from said front surface to said back surface of said vertical leg for allowing attachment of said vertical leg to a plurality of affixation locations on said underlying building structure; and a plurality of fasteners adapted to be placed through said plurality of affixation holes and attachment to said underlying building structure.

9. A lintel member according to claim 2, further comprising: a plurality of affixation holes extending through from said front surface to said back surface of said vertical leg and said vertical portion of said substrate for allowing attachment of said vertical leg to a plurality of affixation locations on said underlying building structure; and a plurality of fasteners adapted to be placed through said plurality of affixation holes and attachment to said underlying building structure; wherein said plurality of affixation holes through said substrate has a peripheral surface covered by said thermoplastic material.

10. A lintel member according to claim 1, wherein said thermoplastic material is selected from the group moisture impermeable, corrosion resistant, high strength thermoplastics materials consisting of: Acrylonitrile/Methylacrylate copolymer; Regenerated Cellulose; CA; CAB; Cyclo-olefin copolymer; E-CTFE; ETFE; EP; FKM; PAN; ABS; PA 4,6; PA 6; PA 6,6; PA 6,6 30% GFR; PA 11; PA 12; PAI; Polyaramid Polyparaphenylene terephthalamide; Polyaramid Polymetaphenylene isophthalamide; PBI; PBT; PBT 30% GFR; PC; Polycarbonate—30% Glass Fibre Filled; PCTFE; PEEK; PEI; PES; Polyethylene—Carbon filled; HDPE; LDPE; UHMW PE; PEN; PET, PETP; PHB; PHB92/PHV 8; PI; PMMA; Acrylic; Polymethylpentene; POMC; POMH; Polyphenyleneoxide PPO (modified), PPE (modified); PPO 30% GFR; PPS; PPS—40% GFR; Polyphenylsulphone; PP; PS; PS—X—Linked; PTFE; PTFE 75/Glass 25; PTFE 25% GF; UPVC; PVF; PVDC; PVDF; Silicone Elastomer; Teflon; and Teflon PFA.

11. A lintel member according to claim 2, wherein said thermoplastic material is selected from the group moisture impermeable, corrosion resistant, high strength thermoplastics consisting of: Acrylonitrile/Methylacrylate copolymer; Regenerated Cellulose; CA; CAB; Cyclo-olefin copolymer; E-CTFE; ETFE; EP; FKM; PAN; ABS; PA 4,6; PA 6; PA 6,6; PA 6,6 30% GFR; PA 11; PA 12; PAI; Polyaramid Polyparaphenylene terephthalamide; Polyaramid Polymetaphenylene isophthalamide; PBI; PBT; PBT 30% GFR; PC; Polycarbonate—30% Glass Fibre Filled; PCTFE; PEEK; PEI; PES; Polyethylene—Carbon filled; HDPE; LDPE; UHMW PE; PEN; PET, PETP; PHB; PHB92/PHV 8; PI; PMMA; Acrylic; Polymethylpentene; POMC; POMH; Polyphenyleneoxide PPO (modified), PPE (modified); PPO 30% GFR; PPS; PPS—40% GFR; Polyphenylsulphone; PP; PS; PS—X—Linked; PTFE; PTFE 75/Glass 25; PTFE 25% GF; UPVC; PVF; PVDC; PVDF; Silicone Elastomer; Teflon; and Teflon PFA; and wherein the material of construction of said substrate is selected from the group of high strength materials including: iron; steel; aluminum; tin; titanium; beryllium; carbon; carbon fibers; concrete; glass reinforced plastics; carbon fiber reinforced plastics; and mixtures, oxides and alloys thereof.

12. A lintel member according to claim 3, wherein said stiffener further comprises: a stiffener bracket comprising; a bracket vertical leg having a front face and a back face and a top edge and a bottom edge; said back edge of said substantially triangular member being attached to said front face of said bracket vertical leg; a bracket horizontal leg having a top face and a bottom face and a back edge and a front edge; said back edge of said bracket horizontal leg being attached to said bottom edge of said bracket vertical leg; said bottom edge of said substantially triangular member being attached to said top face of said bracket horizontal leg; and stiffener bracket attachment means on said bracket vertical leg or said bracket horizontal leg; said stiffener bracket attachment means being adapted for adjustable attachment of said bracket vertical leg to a plurality of attachment locations on said vertical leg or adjustable attachment of said bracket horizontal leg to a plurality of attachment locations on said horizontal leg.

13. A lintel member according to claim 12, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means is selected from the group consisting of: dovetails on said bottom face of said bracket horizontal leg with cooperating dovetail channels in said top face of said horizontal leg; dovetails on said back face of said bracket vertical leg with cooperating dovetail-channels in said front face of said vertical leg; T-bars on said bottom face of said bracket horizontal leg with cooperating T-channels in said top face of said horizontal leg; T-bars on said back face of said bracket vertical leg with cooperating T-channels in said front face of said vertical leg; and combinations thereof.

14. A lintel member according to claim 12, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a front plate having a top and a bottom edge, said top edge of said front plate being connected to said front edge of said stiffener horizontal leg; and a bottom plate having a front edge, said front edge of said bottom plate being connected to said bottom edge of said front plate; wherein said stiffener horizontal leg, said front plate and said bottom plate are adapted to be located adjacent a plurality of locations along said top face, said front edge and said bottom face of said horizontal leg, respectively.

15. A lintel member according to claim 12, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a top plate having a front and a back edge, said front edge of said top plate being connected to said top edge of said stiffener vertical leg; and a back plate having a top edge, said top edge of said back plate being connected to said back edge of said top plate; wherein said stiffener vertical leg, said top plate and said back plate are adapted to be located adjacent a plurality of locations along said front face, said top edge and said back face of said vertical leg, respectively.

16. A lintel member according to claim 12, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a first recess in said top face of said horizontal leg adjacent a first groove between the top face, bottom face and front edge of said horizontal leg; wherein said front edge of said stiffener bracket horizontal leg is adapted to be retained within said first groove.

17. A lintel member according to claim 12, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a second recess in said top face of said horizontal leg adjacent a second groove between the front face, back face and top edge of said vertical leg; wherein said top edge of said stiffener bracket vertical leg is adapted to be retained within said second groove.

18. A lintel member according to claim 17, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a second recess in said top face of said horizontal leg adjacent a second groove between the front face, back face and top edge of said vertical leg; wherein said top edge of said stiffener bracket vertical leg is adapted to be retained within said second groove.

19. A lintel member according to claim 14, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a top plate having a front and a back edge, said front edge of said top plate being connected to said top edge of said stiffener vertical leg; and a back plate having a top edge, said top edge of said back plate being connected to said back edge of said top plate; wherein said stiffener vertical leg, said top plate and said back plate are adapted to be located adjacent a plurality of locations along said front face, said top edge and said back face of said vertical leg, respectively.

20. A lintel member according to claim 12, wherein said stiffener bracket attachment means further comprises: a plurality of fasteners in said stiffener bracket vertical leg, said plurality of fastener being selected from the group consisting of: snap fasteners, threaded fasteners, nails, adhesives and sealing coated fasteners.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a lintel system for supporting bricks and other veneers above openings in a building structure. More specifically, the present invention comprises a composite lintel that is lighter and more corrosion resistant as compared to conventional steel lintels. The lintel has a variety of configurations to accommodate various areas of a building structure that require the use of a load bearing support member.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Brick and concrete structures are common in the prior art. Many structures are built from brick, concrete and the like because of their many advantages including: durability and strength; fire resistance; temperature and sound insulation; general attractiveness; and ease of maintenance, i.e., elimination of the rotting, denting, warping, rusting, splitting, peeling, and fading associated with wooden structures, as well as a deterrent to wood consuming insects such as termites.

It should be understood that the facing material described hereinafter as brick can also be concrete, cinderblock, stone, granite, slate, mortar and other structural materials and veneers and combinations thereof. It is necessary when building a brick structure for the brickwork to be supported over openings. Methods for accomplishing this support include brick arches, steel bars or angles, prefabricated reinforced concrete, prefabricated brickwork and directly support from a reinforced concrete structure. The steel angles (known as lintels or shelf angles) can provide all the support, or be attached to the primary structure such as a reinforced concrete frame, to which the load is transferred.

It is necessary (and required by building codes) when building a brick structure to provide support over openings in the building structure. These are known generally as lintels, but also include arch supports, angle iron and roof supports, all of which hereinafter shall be referred to singularly and collectively as lintels. As is well known in the art, a lintel is a horizontally disposed architectural member that is employed to span an opening in a building such as a window or door, and the lintel usually carries the load above that opening. The lintels used in modern buildings of cement block, brick, types of masonry construction have traditionally been fabricated of elongated heavy gage angle iron. Lintels are generally made of steel or concrete because these materials are durable and inexpensive. The lintel is typically nailed, bolted or otherwise secured to the header (building frame) forming the top of the opening. It may additionally be simply supported at each end by the brick or concrete just below the header outside the opening. One or more courses of brick are then placed on the lintel and are secured thereto with mortar. The lintel supports the weight of all the bricks above the lintel (at least until the next support structure on the frame of the building.

Typically, a single L-shaped angle iron is employed by placement of the angle iron above the opening and the vertical portion of the angle iron is secured to the header or other support frame of the underlying structure. Alternatively, a pair of such angle members may be employed to form a lintel by placement of the members in a back-to-back position over the opening in the building. This positioning results in a pair of juxtaposed upstanding flanges and a pair of oppositely laterally extending flanges. In some instances the pair of upstanding flanges are secured to each other such as by tack welding.

One particular size of angle iron member commonly used in forming the above described prior art lintels measures 3 inches tall by 3½ inches per leg, and are of ¼ inch thick metal. Each angle iron of these dimensions will weigh approximately 5.8 pounds per lineal foot. Other larger angle irons are used when the span and load requirements necessitate the use of such heavier metal.

A problem with steel angle irons is that they are heavy and that steel bends under a sufficient load. When spanning an opening the steel (or other metal) angle iron will sag in the center between the simple supports at the edges of the opening in the structure. In fact, the weight of the steel in the angle iron alone will cause it to deform—this sagging is compounded by the additional weight of the brickwork above that is to be supported by the sagging member. The sagging of the member will cause cracks and weakening of the brick structure above, necessitating eventual replacement of the lintel and brickwork. The cracks in the brickwork will also cause moisture to enter beneath the brickwork thereby damaging the underlying structure and exposing it to wood infesting insects.

Steel angle iron typically should be protected against corrosion by hot-dip galvanizing. The density of the galvanization will depend on the corrosive level of the environment, however stainless steel can also be used in highly corrosive environments. The angle iron may also be protected from corrosion with paint or some other coating that protects exposed areas from corrosion.

It is another problem with steel angle iron that by its nature, steel (or other metals) will expand and contract due to thermal expansion. This thermal expansion will inevitable cause such coatings as paint or galvanization to be decimated over time and allow the underlying steel to be exposed to moisture, thereby causing corrosion. Furthermore, because these coatings are relatively thin, they are easily damaged during shipping and installation of the angle iron. Only a small amount of exposed metal is necessary to commence the corrosion process in large areas of the angle iron.

Furthermore, corrosion of the angle iron creates greater problems. By their nature brick and concrete are very porous. Water can easily permeate the typical brick or concrete block. This is the reason drainage devices (called weep holes) are typically built into these veneers in order to prevent accumulation of moisture between the veneer and the underlying structure of the building. Accumulation of moisture can cause damage to the underlying wooden or metal structure. However, some moisture is still retained between the veneer and the structure. This inevitably leads to corrosion of exposed metal members in the structure, i.e., steel angle irons used as lintels.

Corrosion of the steel lintel can cause diagonal cracks to extend up from the ends of the lintel. The corrosion product of steel will occupy 10 to 20 times as much space as the steel itself. This expansion generates tremendous pressure when confined and is capable of bending the steel angles. As mentioned herein above, this bending from compression and sagging is capable of breaking apart the brick masonry, or lifting the brick, thereby necessitating replacement of the angle iron and brickwork.

Corrosion that builds up on the top surface of the steel lintel lifts the masonry. Diagonal cracks form at the ends of the lintel because this area is the weakest plane. The cracks are more likely to occur when there are only a few feet of masonry above the head of the windows because there is less weight to resist the expansion pressure generated by the corroding steel. Where there is greater confining pressure, such as at lower levels on a building that does not contain horizontal expansion joints, the pressure generated by the corroding steel causes the portion of the angle above the window to deflect downward and the brick at the jambs to crush. To repair this problem, it is often necessary to replace the lintel with a new one. Typically, three to four courses of the exterior brick masonry must be removed in order to perform this repair. This is very expensive.

Therefore, a need exists for a new and improved lintel structure which can be fabricated from relatively light composite materials which have sufficient structural strength, as well as being resistant to corrosion.

The prior art includes lintel and support structures as in U.S. Pat. No. 4,020,612 to Welch. Welch describes a lintel fabricated of an elongated lightweight metal plate having rigidifying beam means affixed thereto and extending longitudinally thereof. Although the lintel of Welch attempts to provide for a lightweight and rigid member, the device of Welch still does not provide for a corrosion resistant structure.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,584,150 to Newman discloses an angle iron cover, which may be made of plastic that may be removably secured to an angle iron. The purpose of Newman is to provide an aesthetic cover for exposed portions (primarily the bottom) of angle irons. Although Newman provides a plastic cover for some of the lintel, the device of Newman does not prevent corrosion because portions of the angle iron are still exposed to moisture. Furthermore, the device of Newman does not provide lightweight of rigidity to the lintel, and thus suffers the disadvantage of sagging under its own weight and that of the bricks thereabove.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,106,247 to Svensson describes a lintel made of a relatively thin plate having an L-shaped cross-section. The device of Svensson described tension band attached between the horizontal and horizontal legs 20 of the lintel. Although the lintel of Svensson attempts to provide for a relatively lightweight and rigid member, the device of Svensson still does not provide for a corrosion resistant structure.

Thus, the prior art devices identified above suffer a host of disadvantages. None of the devices above provide for a lintel structure that is both lightweight yet structurally rigid while also being corrosion resistant. A plastic cover for only a portion of the steel lintel does not prevent corrosion, and galvanized structures still are not corrosion resistant as the galvanization is easily damaged during transport and installation.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and useful lintel structure.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure that is made of composite materials such that it is lightweight compared to prior art lintels.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials that have sufficient structural strength to support the brickwork thereon.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials and is simple and relatively inexpensive to fabricate.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials having a rigidifying means affixed thereto.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials such that it is moisture impermeable.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials such that it is corrosion resistant.

The foregoing and other objects of the present invention, as well as the invention itself, may be more fully understood from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a new and useful lightweight moisture impermeable lintel structure is disclosed as being fabricated of an elongated composite shelf angle having a rigidifying means affixed thereto. The rigidifying means comprises spaced apart stiffeners that are disposed in integral multiples of the brick lengths (including space for the mortar therebetween). The preferred form of stiffeners is a relatively light gage composite material in the form of triangular members attached between the vertical and horizontal legs of the composite shelf angle. Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and useful lintel structure.

Thus, an object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure that is made of composite materials such that it is lightweight compared to prior art lintels, thereby minimizing or preventing sagging of the lintel.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials that have sufficient structural strength to support the brickwork thereon, thereby minimizing or preventing sagging of the lintel.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials and is simple and relatively inexpensive to fabricate.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials having a rigidifying means affixed thereto, thereby minimizing or preventing sagging of the lintel.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials such that it is moisture impermeable.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a lintel structure of the above-described character that is formed of composite materials such that it is corrosion resistant.

Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention will be obtained by means of instrumentalities in combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate a complete embodiment of the invention according to the best modes so far devised for the practical application of the principles thereof, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view a prior art angle iron.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a prior art angle iron showing the operable relationship between the lintel, the underlying structure and the brickwork supported thereon.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the preferred embodiment of the composite lintel of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a partially cross-sectional front elevation view showing the preferred embodiment of the composite lintel of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a partially cross-sectional side elevation view showing the preferred embodiment of the composite lintel of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the composite lintel showing an interior frame encased in a composite material.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the composite lintel showing an interior frame encased in a textured composite material and further showing affixation holes and weep holes.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a preferred configuration of an angled affixation hole with fastener and sealant.

FIG. 9 is a front-elevation view of a lintel structure having an adjustable stiffener slideably mounted within the vertical and horizontal legs.

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the lintel and stiffener of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is an elevation view of a lintel structure having an adjustable stiffener slideably mounted over the vertical and horizontal legs.

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the lintel and stiffener of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the lintel and stiffener of FIG. 11.

FIG. 14 is perspective view of a lintel structure having an adjustable stiffener mounted to the vertical and horizontal legs with T-channels and snap fasteners.

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of the lintel and stiffener of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is perspective view of a lintel structure having an adjustable stiffener mounted to the vertical and horizontal legs with dovetailed channels.

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of the lintel and stiffener of FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of another configuration for the dovetails for the lintel and stiffener of FIG. 16.

FIG. 19 is a front elevation view of a lintel structure configured in the form of a roof, dormer or eave angle.

FIG. 20 is a front elevation view of a lintel structure configured in the form of an arched lintel.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the figures where similar parts are numbered the same throughout. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical embodiment of an angle iron used as a lintel in the prior art. As mentioned herein above, the angle iron typically comprises steel bar having an L-shaped cross-section. FIG. 2 shows the typical configuration of a prior art angle iron affixed to a building structure and having bricks and mortar supported thereon.

Referring now to FIGS. 3-5: FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the lintel 1 comprises a composite structure having a generally L-shaped cross-section. The lintel 1 has a vertical leg 20 which is affixed to the underlying structure (building header or frame above the opening) and which is rigidly attached to a horizontal leg 10, upon which bricks and mortar are laid.

The materials of construction of the vertical leg 20 and horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1 are preferably composite materials that are lightweight (relative to the prior art steel composition). In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the primary material of construction of the lintel 1 is preferably a thermoplastic material that is lightweight and has a high tensile strength. Examples of such preferred thermoplastics includes Acrylic, ABS (and glass fiber reinforced ABS), Acetyl Copolymer (AC and glass reinforced AC), High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE), Ultra High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene (UHMPE), Nylon (including heat stabilized, impact modified, glass-filled, polyamide and copolymer flame retardant nylons, and combinations thereof), Polycarbonate, Polypropelene, Polyimide (PI and glass fiber reinforced PI), Polyamide-Imide, Polystyrene, Teflon™, and Epoxies.

More specifically, the substances that may be used as a composite construction of or coating for a composite lintel include: Acrylonitrile/Methylacrylate copolymer; Regenerated Cellulose; Cellulose Acetate (CA); Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB); Cyclo-olefin copolymer; Ethylene-Chlorotrifluoroethylene copolymer (E-CTFE); Ethylene-Tetrafluoroethylene Copolymer (ETFE); Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene Copolymer (FEP); Polyacrylamide/acrylate Hydrogel; Hexafluoropropylenevinylidenefluoride copolymer (FKM); Polyacrylonitrile (PAN); Polyacrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS); Polyamide—Nylon 4,6 (PA 4,6); Polyamide—Nylon 6 (PA 6); Polyamide—Nylon 6, 6 (PA 6,6); Polyamide—Nylon 6, 6-30% Glass Fiber Reinforced (PA 6,6 30% GFR); Polyamide—Nylon 11 (PA 11); Polyamide—Nylon 12 (PA 12); Polyamide/imide (PAI); Polyaramid Polyparaphenylene terephthalamide; Polyaramid Polymetaphenylene isophthalamide; Polybenzimidazole (PBI); Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT); Polybutylene terephthalate—30% Glass Fiber Reinforced (PBT 30% GFR); Polycarbonate (PC); Polycarbonate—30% Glass Fibre Filled; Polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE); Polyetheretherketone (PEEK); Polyetherimide (PEI); Polyethersulfone (PES); Polyethylene—Carbon filled; Polyethylene—High density (HDPE); Polyethylene—Low Density (LDPE); Polyethylene—Ultra High molecular Weight (UHMW PE); Polyethylene naphthalate (PEN); Polyethylene terephthalate Polyester, (PET, PETP); iPolyhydroxybutyrate—Biopolymer (PHB); Polyhydroxybutyrate/Polyhydroxyvalerate 8%—Biopolymer (PHB92/PHV 8); Polyimide (PI); Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA); Acrylic; Polymethylpentene; Polyoxymethylene—Copolymer Acetal—Copolymer (POMC); Polyoxymethylene—Homopolymer Acetal—Homopolymer (POMH); Polyphenyleneoxide PPO (modified), PPE (modified); Polyphenyleneoxide (modified), 30% Glass Fiber Reinforced (PPO 30% GFR); Polyphenylenesulfide (PPS); Polyphenylenesulfide—40% Glass Fiber Reinforced (PPS—40% GFR); Polyphenylsulphone; Polypropylene (PP); Polystyrene (PS); High Impact Conductive Polystyrene; Polystyrene—Cross-linked (PS—X—Linked); Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE); Polytetrafluoroethylene coated Glass Fabric (PTFE 75/Glass 25); Polytetrafluoroethylene filled with Glass (PTFE 25% GF); Polyvinylchloride—Unplasticized (UPVC); Polyvinylfluoride (PVF); Polyvinylidenechloride (PVDC); Polyvinylidenefluoride (PVDF); Silicone Elastomer; and Tetrafluoroethylene-perfluoro(alkoxy vinyl ether)—Copolymer PFA. (Teflon PFA).

As an example of the properties of HDPE which make it desirable as a material for a light-weight corrosion resistant (moisture impermeable) material of construction for a lintel structure are the following properties: HDPE has a density of 0.0338-0.0348 lb/in3 (0.948 g/cc); Water Absorption of 0.01%; Moisture Vapor Transmission of 0.965 cc-mil/100 in2-24 hr-atm; Tensile Strength of 3480-6530 psi (30 Mpa); Yield Strength of 2180-4350 psi (21.9 Mpa); a Tensile Modulus 116-144 ksi (0.86 Gpa); a Flexural Modulus of 72.5-220 ksi (0.928 Gpa); a linear Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) at 20° C. of 77.8 pin/in; and a Melting Point of 255-268° F. (130° C.). Thus desirable physical properties include low density for light weight (0.5-3.0 g/cc); Low Water absorption (less than 0.1%); a low CTE (less than 250 pin/in); relatively high melting point (more than 160° F./60° C.); High tensile strength of (15-100 Mpa); High Yield Strength (5-40 Mpa); a relatively high Tensile Modulus (0.5-2.5 Gpa); a relatively high Flexural Modulus (0.7-4.0 Gpa)

Preferably, the lintel 1 also comprises at least one stiffener 30 that is an essentially triangular member attached to both the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10 of the lintel 1. The triangular, i.e, right triangular, stiffener 30 has a substantially vertical back edge and a substantially horizontal bottom edge, with a diagonal front edge extending from the front of the bottom edge to the top of the back edge of the stiffener 30. The stiffener 30 adds strength to the composite structure by distributing the load born by the horizontal leg 10 and transferring a portion of the load to the stiffener 30 and the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1. The stiffeners 30 are preferably attached to the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10 and extend substantially perpendicularly to the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10 of the lentil 1, i.e. at a 90 degree angle to the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 and at a 90 degree angle to the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10. The stiffeners 30 are preferably distributed along the length of the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10 by an integral number of brick lengths (including mortar thickness between vertical adjoining brick faces, in order to facilitate placement of one or more bricks between each pair of stiffeners 30. Preferably the stiffeners 30 allow for placement of two bricks (and mortar) therebetween. However, stiffeners 30 may be spaced so as to allow placement of only one brick (and mortar) between adjacent stiffeners 30 or three or more bricks (and mortar) therebetween.

Each of the horizontal legs 10, vertical legs 20 and stiffeners 30 has opposing surfaces that provide functionality to the composite lintel 1 structure. The horizontal legs 10 have top and bottom opposing faces. The bottom face 10a of the horizontal leg 10 is substantially flat and is typically the exposed surface of the lintel 1 beneath the opening that the lintel 1 spans. The top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 supports the bricks and/or mortar that are laid on the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10.

The vertical legs 20 have front and back opposing faces. The back face 20b of the vertical leg 20 is substantially flat and abuts the underlying building structure to which it is attached. The front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 is adjacent to the bricks that are laid on the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10. The stiffeners 30 are essentially triangular members connecting the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 to the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20. Each of the stiffeners 30 has opposing left and right side faces and back and bottom edges. The back edge of the stiffener 30 is connected to the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 and the bottom edge o the stiffener 30 is connected to the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10.

Referring to FIGS. 6-7: In order to increase the tensile and flexural strength of the lightweight composite lentil and comply with certain building codes, another embodiment of the composite lentil 2 may also include a substrate 200 comprising metal frame/substrate or other interior support member located between the front and back faces 20a, 20b of the vertical leg 20 and between the top and bottom faces 10b, 10a of the horizontal leg 10. The substrate 200 may also be located between the opposing left and right side faces of the stiffeners 30 and rigidly connected to the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 and the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1. More specifically, in this embodiment of a composite lintel 2 a solid interior frame or substrate 200, comprises a vertical substrate leg 220 rigidly attached to a horizontal substrate leg 210 constructed as described above, which is located between the front and back faces 20a, 20b of the (plastic) vertical leg 20 and between the top and bottom faces 10b, 10a of the (plastic) horizontal leg 10. The substrate 200 may have a stiffener 230 attached to the vertical and horizontal substrate legs 220, 210 as described herein above, and located between the opposing left and right side faces 30b, 30c of the (plastic) stiffeners 30.

The material of construction of the substrate 200 may be selected from the group of high tensile and flexural strength metals such as iron, steel, aluminum, tin, titanium, beryllium and mixtures, oxides and metal alloys. The material of construction of the substrate may also be selected from the group of high strength materials such as carbon, carbon fibers, concrete and glass reinforced or carbon fiber reinforced plastics and other materials having high tensile and flexural strength. Furthermore, the substrate may include various combinations of the aforementioned metallic and/or other composite materials.

The interior support structure may include for example solid substrates (vertical and horizontal legs 220, 210 of the substrate rigidly affixed to each other, and further including stiffeners 230 attached therebetween) which are encased in or coated with the aforementioned thermoplastic material. Furthermore, the composite lintel 2 may also comprise an interior frame or substrate that includes not only the horizontal and vertical legs 210, 220, but also a stiffener 230 rigidly attached to the horizontal and vertical legs 210, 220. Furthermore, rather than a solid interior frame, the substrate or support structure may include a mesh, wire frame or particulate composite disposition of the aforementioned materials of composition. In addition, in order to comply with building codes, the substrate and/or composite may also comprise fire and/or heat resistant compositions including asbestos and/or carbon.

Preferably the overall thickness of the lentil legs 10, 20 and stiffeners 30 is 3/16 inch However, the horizontal leg 10 and the vertical leg 20 may range in thickness from as little as ⅛ inch to as much as 2 inches depending on the materials of construction of the lintel 1, 2 and their load bearing capabilities. Furthermore, the stiffeners 30 may range in total thickness from as little as 1/16 inch to as much as ½ inch depending on the materials of construction of the stiffeners 30 and their load bearing capabilities.

As mentioned herein above in one embodiment of the invention, the lightweight composite material (primarily a thermoplastic substance) may be used alone or may be used to encase an interior support structure 200. Preferably the thermoplastic is applied to the support structure 200 by spray coating. However, the materials may be combined by insertion of the support structure 200 within an extruded plastic casing. The thermoplastic may also be heated to enhance adhesion of the casing (vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10 and/or stiffeners 30) to the internal support structure 200. The thickness of the casing is preferably sufficient to prevent permeation of moisture therethrough and onto the support structure to prevent oxidation of the internal structure 200. Preferably, the casing has a thickness of at least 10 mils to ¼ inch thickness and the interior support 200 has a thickness ranging between 10 mils to ¼ inch thickness.

Referring to FIG. 7: To enhance adhesion of the mortar and/or bricks to the surfaces of the lintel, i.e., the faces adjacent the bricks, the front face 20a of vertical leg 20 and/or the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 and stiffener 30 left and right faces 30b, 30c are preferably textured such as a sanded, corrugated, dimpled and/or perforated texture. Such texturing enhances adhesion of mortar thereto and/or therethrough to provide a firm anchorage of the mortar and bricks to the faces of the vertical leg 20, horizontal leg 10 and/or opposing side faces 30b, 30c of the stiffeners 30.

In an exemplary embodiment, the above described lintel 1 is used with a course of typical bricks. Modular bricks have typical nominal dimensions of 4 inches in width (3 1/2-3⅝ inch) by 8 inches in length (7½-7⅝ inch) and nominal heights of 2⅔, 3 1/5 and 4 inches, and a joint thickness (for mortar) of ⅜ to ½ inch. The stiffeners 30 are spaced 16 inches (on center) to be apart so as to allow placement of two bricks (15 inches) with a ⅜ to ½ inch of mortar between each adjoining brick side face, and 3/16 to ½ inch of mortar between the brick side faces adjacent the stiffener faces 30b, 30c, as well as ¼-½ inch of mortar between the brick bottom faces adjacent the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1.

The front edges 30a of the stiffeners 30 are angled from the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 toward the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20. Preferably, the angle at which the stiffener 30 tends from the horizontal leg 10 toward the vertical leg 20 allows for placement of a second course of bricks on a first course of bricks in a staggered fashion (which enhances the strength of the brickwork) such that the second course of bricks do not contact the front edge(s) 30a of the stiffener(s) 30. Alternatively the stiffeners 30 may tend at an angle from the horizontal leg 10 toward the vertical leg 20 that is further towards vertical to enhance the load transference capability from the horizontal leg 10 to the vertical leg 20. In this case, bricks may be cut at the point that they would contact the front edge 30a of the stiffener 30 to allow the front edge 30a of the stiffener 30 to protrude within the brick (or mortar therein). Preferably the angle is at least 45 degrees, and most preferably is approximately 30 degrees off vertical). The angle however may be in a range (off vertical) of 15 to 75 degrees.

In order to enhance the load bearing capability of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1, the ratio between the height of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 and the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1 (and that of the load transference by the stiffener 30) is preferably approximately 2-3, i.e., the length of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 is two to three times the length of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1. Thus, a taller vertical leg 20 and stiffener 30 allows greater load transference through the stiffener 30 from the horizontal leg 10 to the vertical leg 20. Although the vertical leg 20 is preferably at least twice as long as the horizontal leg 10, the ratio between the legs may be as little as 0.5, or as great as 5-10.

In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the horizontal leg 10 is approximately 3⅝ inches in length and the vertical leg 20 is approximately 10 inches in length, and both horizontal and horizontal legs 20 are approximately 5/16 inch in thickness. A stiffener 30 (approximately 3/16 inch in thickness) extends along the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 from the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 approximately 3 inches, and also extends along the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 from the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 approximately 8 inches. Thus, the vertical leg 20 accommodates a stiffener 30 of approximately 3×8 inches. Although the above exemplary dimensions are provide, the horizontal leg 10 may be as short range from 3-5 inches, the vertical leg 20 may range from 3-24 inches, and the stiffener 30 may extend along all or a portion thereof of the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10. Also the thickness of some or all of the vertical leg 20, horizontal leg 10 and stiffeners 30 may vary from ¼ inch to 1 ½ inches, as necessary to accommodate the dimensions and weight of the brick or other construction materials supported by the lintel 1.

Although the back face 20b of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 may be substantially vertical to lie directly against the front face 20a of the underlying structure (header), it is preferred that the top portion 25 of the vertical leg 20 be shaped to enhance moisture impermeability at the edge 27 of the top portion 27 vertical leg 20. More specifically, the top portion 25 of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 preferably has a radius of curvature R1 (towards the back face 20b and underlying building structure) such that upon affixation of the lintel 1 to the building structure, the top edge 27 exerts a force onto the front face of the building structure thereby preventing moisture from permeating from the building structure above the lintel 1 and the top edge 27 of the vertical leg 20 to between the back face 20b of the vertical leg 20 and the underlying building structure. The radius of curvature of the top portion 25 of the vertical leg 20 is preferably approximately ¼ inch (toward the back face 20b of the vertical leg 20), however a range of curvatures from 1/16 inch to 2 inches is sufficient for the top edge 27 of the vertical leg 20 to exert a force on the building structure to prevent moisture from permeating from the top edge 27 of the vertical leg 20 to between the back face 20b of the vertical leg 20 and the underlying building structure.

Referring to FIGS. 3-5 and FIG. 7: The horizontal leg 10 preferably also has weep holes 50 therethrough running between the top and bottom faces 10b, 10a of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1 or 2. These holes 50 allow any accumulated moisture in the bricks and/or mortar to drain out from the brick and/or mortar through the lintel 1 structure. Draining of moisture prevents accumulation of moisture in the veneer thereby minimizing moisture damage to the lintel 1 and the underlying structure to which the lintel 1 is affixed. In addition to the horizontal leg 10, the vertical leg 20 and the stiffeners 30 may also have weep holes 50 therethrough. There is preferably at least one weep hole 50 per brick through the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1. However, there may be as few as one weep hole 50 between each pair of stiffeners 30, and most preferably two or more weep holes 50 beneath each brick placed on the horizontal leg 10 of the lentil 1. The weep holes 50 may be spaced at regular 8-inch intervals to accommodate each brick thereabove, or may be randomly distributed through the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 1. Preferably, the weep holes 50 also have the thermoplastic composite on the faces 50a of the holes 50 (on the hole faces 50a normal to the top and bottom faces 10b, 10a of the horizontal leg 10) to prevent moisture from contacting the substrate 200, thereby preventing oxidation of the substrate 200 within the composite lintel 2.

Referring to FIG. 8: In order to affix the lintel 1 to the underlying building structure, affixation holes 40 are provided through the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1. The holes 40 allow placement of a fastener 45 therethrough to allow for said fastener 45 to secure the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 to the underlying structure. Preferably, the affixation holes 40 also have the thermoplastic composite on the faces 40a of the holes 40 (on the hole faces 40a normal to the front and back faces 20a, 20b of the vertical leg 20) to prevent moisture from contacting the substrate 200, thereby preventing oxidation of the substrate 200.

There are preferably at least two affixation holes 40 through the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 on opposing ends of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1. Also, there may be as few as one affixation hole 40 between each pair of stiffeners 30, or there may be as many as two or more affixation holes 40 for each brick placed on the horizontal leg 10 of the lentil. Most preferably the affixation holes are spaced at 16 inch intervals to accommodate placement of a fastener through the affixation hole into a wall stud. Wall studs (2×4 or 2×6 boards forming part of the building frame which are typically spaced 16 inches on center) provide a more secure attachment of the lintel 1 to the underlying building structure.

The central axis of the securing/affixation holes 40 may be normal to the front and back faces 20a, 20b of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 1 (as well as the abutting face of the underlying building structure). However, in the preferred embodiment of the invention, the securing holes 40 have an axis relating to the face of the underlying structure at substantially 45 degrees. More specifically, the holes 40 are related to the abutting face of the underlying building structure “downwardly” (approximately 45 degrees off vertical) to provide for greater load transference from the lintel 1 to the fastener 45 and from the fastener 45 to the vertical leg 20, through the fastener 45 and to underlying building structure. The angle of the axis between the affixation hole 40 and the face of the underlying structure can vary between 115 degrees and 15 degrees off vertical, but is preferably 45 degrees off vertical.

To enhance the moisture impermeability of the lintel 1 structure and further prevent corrosion, the affixation holes 40 are preferably filled with a self-sealing substance 47 between the fastener 45 and the interior (composite/plastic coated) walls 40a of the affixation holes 40. The self-sealing substance 47 preferably comprises tar, but may also include rubber, silicone, and other moisture impermeable sealing compounds. Also to prevent the onset of corrosion, the materials of construction of the fasteners 45/nails/screws are preferably selected from the variety of corrosion resistant materials including galvanized metal, Teflon™, polyester, and the materials of construction listed herein above as the composite materials of construction of the lintel structure. Thus when the fastener 45 is affixed through the affixation hole 40 to the underlying building structure, the self sealing substance 47 forms a moisture impermeable layer between the fastener 45 and the affixation hole 40 as well as a moisture impermeable barrier between the fastener 45, upper lintel 1 leg and the underlying building structure. Furthermore, the lintel 1 may be prefabricated with the fasteners 45 already partially imbedded within the sealing compound 47 in the affixation holes 40 in order to provide ease of installation.

Referring now to FIGS. 9-17 and 20: Although the above lintels show the construction material to be block shaped, as in conventional bricks and cinder block, it is within the scope of the invention to use other materials such as stone or composite materials having an non-uniform or irregular shape. To accommodate the use of building materials having non-uniform shapes, it is preferred that in an alternate embodiment of the lintel structure that the stiffener structures be adjustably or slideably mountable to the horizontal and vertical legs of the lintel as shown in FIGS. 9-18.

Referring now to FIGS. 9 and 10: FIG. 9 is a front elevation view of a lintel structure 3 having an adjustable stiffener 60 slideably mounted within the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10. More specifically, an adjustable stiffener 60 comprises a triangular stiffener 65 as described above mounted to a stiffener bracket 70 comprising horizontal and vertical bracket legs 72, 74. The overall dimensions of the vertical leg 20, horizontal leg 10 and stiffener 65 of the lintel 3 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8. Furthermore the materials of construction of the lintel 3 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8.

To accommodate the use of adjustable stiffener brackets 70, the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 and the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 have recesses 11, 12 therein allowing for insertion of the bracket 70 therein. More specifically, the horizontal bracket leg 72 rests within the horizontal recess 11 in the horizontal leg 10 and the vertical bracket leg 74 rests within the vertical recess 12 in the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 3. Preferably the depth of the recesses 11, 12 is approximately the same as the thickness of the horizontal and vertical bracket legs 72, 74. The thickness of the bracket legs 72, 74 (and corresponding recesses 11, 12) is approximately ⅓ to ½ the overall thickness of the horizontal and vertical legs 10, 20 of the lintel 3. The width of the recesses 11, 12 is preferably 2-3 times the width of the bracket 70 to allow for left and/or right adjustment of the bracket 70 within the recesses 11,12. The bracket is preferably at least ½ inch in width, and most preferably 3-4 inches in width. Thus the recesses 11, 12 are preferably 2-12 inches in width to allow for adjustment of the bracket left or right by up to 11 inches. The recesses may alternately span the entire length of a lintel for insertion of multiple stiffeners 60 within the lintel recesses 11, 12.

The vertical bracket leg 74 has a first tongue 75 at the top end of the vertical bracket leg 74 and the horizontal bracket leg 72 has a second tongue 73 at the front end of the horizontal bracket leg 72. The bracket legs 72, 74 fit within the corresponding recesses 11, 12 in the horizontal and vertical legs 10, 20 of the lintel 3. More specifically, the top end of the lintel recess 12 in the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 3 has a first groove 14 (between the front and back faces 20, 20b of the vertical lintel leg 20) to accommodate insertion of the first tongue 75 of the vertical bracket leg 74, and retention of the vertical bracket leg 74 therein. The front end of the lintel recess 11 in the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 3 has a second groove 13 (between the top and bottom faces 10a, 10b of the horizontal lintel leg 10) to accommodate insertion of the second tongue 73 of the horizontal bracket leg, and retention of the horizontal bracket leg 72 therein.

To provide for securing of the adjustable stiffener 60 once it is placed in the desired position in the recesses 11,12, bracket affixation holes 41 may be provided through vertical bracket leg 74 and through vertical leg 20 affixation holes 40 of the lintel 3, for placement of fasteners 45 therethrough. Placement of a fastener 45 through the affixation holes 40, 41 allows for attachment of the composite lintel 3 to the building structure and fixation of the adjustable stiffener 60 relative to the lintel 3.

Referring now to FIGS. 11-13. FIG. 11 is an elevation view of a lintel structure 4 having an alternate adjustable stiffener 80 slideably mounted over the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10, i.e. around the top edge and front edge of the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10 of the lintel 4. The alternate adjustable stiffener 80 comprises a triangular stiffener member 85 rigidly attached to a stiffener bracket 88. More specifically, a stiffener bracket 88 is provided having a vertical leg front portion 82, and a horizontal leg top portion 84, to which the back edge and bottom edge of the stiffener member 85 is rigidly attached. The vertical leg front portion 82 and the horizontal leg top portion 84 adjoin the front face 20a and the top face 10b of the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10, of the lintel 4. The overall dimensions of the vertical leg 20, horizontal leg 10 and stiffener 85 of the lintel 4 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8. Furthermore the materials of construction of the lintel 4 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8.

The stiffener bracket 88 also comprises a vertical leg top portion 83 rigidly attached vertical leg front portion 82. The vertical leg top portion 83 adjoins the top portion 25 of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 4. The stiffener bracket 88 also comprises a horizontal leg front portion 86 rigidly attached to the horizontal leg top portion 84. The horizontal leg front portion 86 adjoins the front face 10c of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 4. The stiffener bracket 88 also comprises a vertical leg back portion 81 rigidly attached vertical leg top portion 83. The vertical leg back portion 81 adjoins at least a part of the back face 20b of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 4. The stiffener bracket 88 also comprises a horizontal leg bottom portion 87 rigidly attached horizontal leg front portion 86. The horizontal leg bottom portion 87 adjoins at least a part of the bottom face 10a of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 4. In the embodiment of FIG. 12, the stiffener bracket 88 has a vertical back portion 81 and a horizontal leg bottom portion 87 that cover adjoin only a portion of the lintel's vertical leg 20 back face 20b and horizontal leg 10 bottom face 10a. In the embodiment of FIG. 13, the stiffener bracket 88 has a vertical leg back portion 81 and a horizontal leg bottom portion 87 that are rigidly connected to each other and adjoin the entirety (in the width dimension of the bracket 88) of the lintel's vertical leg 20 back face 20b and horizontal leg 10 bottom face 10a.

To accommodate the use of adjustable stiffener brackets 80, the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 and the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 may also have recesses 11, 12 therein allowing for insertion of the bracket 80 therein. More specifically, the top portion of the horizontal bracket leg 84 rests within a horizontal recess 11 in the horizontal leg 10 and the front portion 82 of the vertical bracket leg 74 rests within the vertical recess 12 in the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 4. Preferably the depth of the recesses 11, 12 is approximately the same as the thicknesses of the top portion 84 of the horizontal leg and the front portion 82 of the vertical leg. The thickness of the bracket portions 81, 82, 83, 84, 86, 87 (and corresponding recesses 11,12) is approximately 1/10 to ¼ the overall thickness of the horizontal and vertical legs 10, 20 of the lintel 4. The width of the recesses 11, 12 (if any) is preferably 2-3 times the width of the bracket 80 to allow for left and/or right adjustment of the bracket 80 within the recesses 11, 12. The bracket is preferably at least ½ inch in width, and most preferably 3-4 inches in width. Thus the recesses 11, 12 are preferably 2-12 inches in width to allow for adjustment of the bracket left or right by up to 11 inches. The recesses may alternately span the entire length of a lintel for insertion of multiple stiffeners 80 within the lintel recesses 11, 12.

To provide for securing of the adjustable stiffener 80 once it is placed in the desired position, bracket affixation holes 41 may be provided through the vertical bracket leg front portion 82 and/or rear portion 81 and through vertical leg 20 affixation holes 40 of the lintel 4, for placement of fasteners 45 therethrough. Placement of a fastener 45 through the affixation holes 40, 41 allows for attachment of the composite lintel 4 to the building structure and fixation of the adjustable stiffener 80 relative to the lintel 4.

Referring now to FIGS. 14-15: FIG. 14 is perspective view of another composite lintel structure 5 having an adjustable stiffener 90 mounted to the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel 5 using T-bars 120 and T-channels 110 and to the vertical leg 20 using fasteners and fastener holes. The alternate adjustable stiffener 90 comprises a triangular stiffener member 95 rigidly attached to a stiffener bracket 98. More specifically, a stiffener bracket 98 is provided having a bracket vertical leg 92, and a bracket horizontal leg 94, to which the back edge and bottom edge of the stiffener member 95 is rigidly attached. The bracket vertical leg 92 and the bracket horizontal leg 94 adjoin the front face 20a and the top face 10b respectively of the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10, of the lintel 5. The overall dimensions of the vertical leg 20, horizontal leg 10 and stiffener 95 of the lintel 5 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8. Furthermore the materials of construction of the lintel 5 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8.

To accommodate the use of adjustable stiffener brackets 90, the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10 and the bottom face 94a of the bracket horizontal leg 94 also have one or more T-channels 110 and T-bars 120 respectively therein and thereon allowing for insertion of the bracket 90 therein. More specifically, the bottom face 94a of the horizontal leg 94 has an essentially T-shaped bar 120 rigidly attached thereto and extending substantially normal to the surface 94a thereof. The T-bar 120 comprises a vertical T-leg 121 and a horizontal T-leg 122. The vertical T-leg 121 is configured as a rectangular prism extending normal to the bottom face 94a in the vertical dimension and preferably normal to the bracket vertical leg 92 in the depth dimension. The horizontal T-leg 122 is rigidly attached to the vertical T-leg 121 and is also configured as a rectangular prism having a greater width (in the horizontal dimension) than the vertical T-leg 121. The horizontal T-leg 122 extends substantially parallel to the bottom face 94a of the bracket horizontal leg 94 in the vertical dimension and preferably normal to the bracket vertical leg 92 in the depth dimension.

The horizontal leg 10 has a recessed T-channel 110 therein to accommodate insertion of the T-bar 120 therein for retention of the bracket 90. The T-channel 110 comprises a vertical T-recess 111 and a horizontal T-recess 112. The vertical T-recess 111 is configured as a rectangular prismatic recess extending downward normal from the top face 10a into the horizontal leg 10 in the vertical dimension. The horizontal T-recess 112 is adjacent to the vertical T-recess 111 and is also configured as a rectangular prism having a greater width (in the horizontal dimension) than the vertical T-recess 111. The horizontal T-recess 122 extends substantially parallel to the top and bottom faces 10a, 10b of the horizontal leg 10 in the vertical dimension and preferably normal to the vertical leg 20 in the depth dimension. The T-channel 110 is of substantially the same and preferably slightly larger dimensions as the T-bar 120 to allow for insertion of the T-bar 120 into the T-channel for retention of the attached bracket 90 therein, and allowing the bottom face 94a of the bracket horizontal leg to abut the top face 10 a of the lintel horizontal leg 10 as well as allowing the back face 92b of the vertical bracket leg 92 to abut the front face 20a of the lintel vertical leg 20.

Preferably the overall depth of the T-channel 110 (and vertical height of the T-bar 120) is ⅓-⅔ of the overall thickness of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel, and most preferably approximately ½ of the horizontal leg 10 thickness. To this end the vertical dimension of the T-channel vertical recess 111 and T-bar 120 vertical leg 121 is ⅙-⅓ (and preferably ¼) the over all thickness of the horizontal leg 10, and the vertical dimension of the T-channel horizontal recess 111 and T-bar 120 horizontal leg 122 is ⅙-⅓ (and preferably ¼) the over all thickness of the horizontal leg 10. Furthermore, the width in the horizontal dimension of the T-channel vertical recess 111 and T-bar 120 vertical leg 121 is ⅙-⅓ (and preferably ¼) the over all thickness of the horizontal leg 10, and the width in the horizontal dimension of the T-channel horizontal recess 111 and T-bar 120 horizontal leg 122 is ⅓-⅔ (and preferably ½) the over all thickness of the horizontal leg 10. Exemplary dimensions (Height×Width×Depth) for a T-bar 120 and T-channel 110 are vertical portions 121, 111 of ¼×¼×3-⅝ inches and horizontal portions 122, 112 of ¼×½×3-⅝ inches.

To allow for placement of the bracket 90 on the lintel 5 and providing a substantially horizontal surface transition between the top face 10a of the horizontal leg 10 and the top face 94b of the bracket horizontal leg 94, a recess 11 may be provided in the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10. Preferably the depth of the recess 11 is approximately the same as the thickness of the bracket horizontal leg 94. The thickness of the horizontal bracket 94 is approximately 1/10 to ¼ the overall thickness of the horizontal 10 of the lintel 5. The width of the recesses 11 (if any) is preferably the same as or slightly larger than the width of the bracket 90 to allow for slight left and/or right adjustment of the bracket 90 within the recesses 11. The bracket 90 is preferably at least ½ inch in width, and most preferably 3-4 inches in width. Thus the recess 11 is preferably 3-5 inches in width to allow for adjustment of the bracket left or right by up to 1 inch.

To provide for securing of the adjustable stiffener 90 once it is placed in the desired position, snap fastener 99 may be provided extending from the back face 92b of the vertical bracket leg 92 and for placement into snap holes 93 in the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 5. Preferably the snap fasteners 99 are slightly flared (gradually increasing in diameter from the front to back direction). Preferably the snap holes 93 are also slightly flared (gradually increasing in diameter from the front to back direction). This allows for placement of a snap fastener 99 into a snap hole 93 in such a manner that the fastener 99 cannot be removed from the hole 93 after being inserted therein.

Rather than using the snap fasteners 99 and snap holes 93 as described herein above, to provide for securing of the adjustable stiffener 90 once it is placed in the desired position, bracket affixation holes 41 may be provided through the vertical bracket leg 92 and through the vertical leg 20 affixation holes 40 of the lintel 5, for placement of fasteners 45 therethrough. Placement of a fastener 45 through the affixation holes 40, 41 allows for attachment of the composite lintel 5 to the building structure and fixation of the adjustable stiffener 90 relative to the lintel 5.

Referring to FIGS. 14 and 16-18: Rather than using the T-channels and T-bars 110, 120 as described above, this embodiment of a lintel 5 and stiffener bracket 90 may instead dovetail fasteners (as described herein below) aligned along the same axis (normal to the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20) as the T-channels and T-bars 110, 120 above.

Referring now to FIGS. 16-18: FIG. 16 is perspective view of another composite lintel structure 6 having an adjustable stiffener 100 mounted to the horizontal leg 10 and to the vertical leg 20 of the lintel 6 using dovetails 130 and dovetail channels 140. The alternate adjustable stiffener 100 comprises a triangular stiffener member 105 rigidly attached to a stiffener bracket 108. More specifically, a stiffener bracket 108 is provided having a bracket vertical leg 102, and a bracket horizontal leg 104, to which the back edge and bottom edge of the stiffener member 105 is rigidly attached. The bracket vertical leg 102 and the bracket horizontal leg 104 adjoin the front face 20a and the top face 10b respectively of the vertical and horizontal legs 20, 10, of the lintel 6. The overall dimensions of the vertical leg 20, horizontal leg 10 and stiffener 105 of the lintel 6 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8. Furthermore the materials of construction of the lintel 6 are as described above in the embodiments of the lintels in FIGS. 3-8.

To accommodate the use of adjustable stiffener brackets 100, the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20 and the back face 102a of the bracket vertical leg 102 also have one or more (preferably 2 parallel) dovetail-channels 140 and dovetails 130 respectively therein and thereon allowing for insertion of the bracket 100 therein. More specifically, the back face 102a of the vertical leg 102 has at least one (preferably two parallel) essentially trapezoidal-shaped bar(s) (dovetail) 130 rigidly attached thereto and extending substantially normal to the surface 102a thereof. The dovetail 130 is configured as a trapezoidal prism rigidly attached to the back surface 102a of the bracket vertical leg 102 at the trapezoidal prism's smaller opposing parallel face and extending normal to the back face 102a in the horizontal dimension and preferably parallel to the bracket horizontal leg 104 in the length dimension.

The vertical leg 20 has at least one (preferably two parallel) recessed dovetail-channels 140 therein to accommodate insertion of the dovetails 130 therein for retention of the bracket 100. The dovetail-channel 140 comprises a recess shaped as a substantially trapezoidal prism. The dovetail channel 140 is configured as a trapezoidal prismatic recess extending normally into front face 20a into the vertical leg 20 in the depth dimension, with the smaller opposing parallel face of the trapezoidal prism forming the opening in the front face 20a of the vertical leg 20. The dovetail-channel 140 is of substantially the same and preferably slightly larger dimensions as the dovetail 130 to allow for insertion of the dovetail 130 into the dovetail-channel 140 for retention of the attached bracket 100 therein, and allowing the back face 102a of the bracket vertical leg 102 to abut the front face 20a of the lintel vertical leg 20 as well as allowing the bottom face 104a of the horizontal bracket leg 104 to abut the top face 10a of the lintel horizontal leg 10.

Preferably the overall depth of the dovetail-channel 140 (and depth of the dovetail 130) is ⅓-⅔ of the overall thickness of the vertical leg 20 of the lintel, and most preferably approximately ½ of the vertical leg 20 thickness. Furthermore, the height of the smaller parallel face of the trapezoidal prism is ⅙-⅓ (and preferably ¼) the over all thickness of the vertical leg 20, and the width in the height of the larger parallel face of the trapezoidal prism ⅓-⅔ (and preferably ½) the over all thickness of the vertical leg 20. Exemplary dimensions (Length×Height×Depth) for a dovetail 130 and dovetail-channel 140 are trapezoidal prisms 2-10 feet×(¼×½)×½ inches.

The bottom face 104a of the horizontal leg 104 also has at least one essentially trapezoidal-shaped bar (dovetail) 130 rigidly attached thereto and extending substantially normal to the surface 104a thereof. The dovetail 130 is configured as a trapezoidal prism rigidly attached to the bottom surface 104a of the bracket horizontal leg 104 at the trapezoidal prism's smaller opposing parallel face and extending normal to the bottom face 104a in the vertical dimension and preferably parallel to the bracket vertical leg 102 in the depth dimension and parallel to the horizontal leg in the length dimension.

The horizontal leg 10 also has at least one recessed dovetail-channel 140 therein to accommodate insertion of the dovetail 130 therein for retention of the bracket 100. The dovetail-channel 140 comprises a recess shaped as a substantially trapezoidal prism. The dovetail channel 140 is configured as a trapezoidal prismatic recess extending downward normal from the top face 10b into the horizontal leg 10 in the vertical dimension, with the smaller opposing parallel face of the trapezoidal prism forming the opening in the top face 10b of the horizontal leg 10. The dovetail-channel 140 is of substantially the same and preferably slightly larger dimensions as the dovetail 130 to allow for insertion of the dovetail 130 into the dovetail-channel 140 for retention of the attached bracket 100 therein, and allowing the bottom face 104a of the bracket horizontal leg to abut the top face 10b of the lintel horizontal leg 10 as well as allowing the back face 102a of the vertical bracket leg 92 to abut the front face 20a of the lintel vertical leg 20.

Preferably the overall depth of the dovetail-channel 140 (and vertical height of the dovetail 130) is ⅓-⅔ of the overall thickness of the horizontal leg 10 of the lintel, and most preferably approximately ½ of the horizontal leg 10 thickness. Furthermore, the width in the horizontal dimension of the smaller parallel face of the trapezoidal prism is ⅙-⅓ (and preferably ¼) the over all thickness of the horizontal leg 10, and the width in the horizontal dimension of the larger parallel face of the trapezoidal prism ⅓-⅔ (and preferably ½) the over all thickness of the horizontal leg 10. Exemplary dimensions (Height×Width×Depth) for a dovetail 130 and dovetail-channel 140 are trapezoidal prisms ½×(¼×½)×3⅝ inches.

Referring now to FIG. 18: While the above description of the lintel 6 provided for dovetails 130 on the bracket 100 and dovetail channels 140 in the horizontal and vertical legs 10, 20 of the lintel 6, it is within the scope of the invention to have one or more dovetails 130 on the surfaces of the horizontal and vertical legs 10, 20 of the lintel 6, and to have one or more dovetail channels 140 in the bracket 100. Furthermore, it is within the scope of the invention that the lintel legs 10, 20 have both dovetails 130 and dovetail channels 140 therein with cooperating respective dovetail channels 140 and dovetails 130 in/on the surfaces of the bracket 100.

To provide for securing of the adjustable stiffener bracket 100 once it is placed in the desired position, bracket affixation holes 41 may be provided through the vertical bracket leg 102 and through the vertical leg 20 affixation holes 40 of the lintel 6, for placement of fasteners 45 therethrough. Placement of a fastener 45 through the affixation holes 40, 41 allows for attachment of the composite lintel 6 to the building structure and fixation of the adjustable stiffener 100 relative to the lintel 6.

Referring now to FIGS. 19-20: Although the most common use for a lintel is to span a horizontal opening in a building structure, lintels may also be used on non-horizontal opening such as for dormers, eaves, roofs and arches. FIG. 19 is a front elevation view of an angled lintel structure 7 configured in the form of a roof, dormer or eave angle. Essentially, it is the union of two lintel structures (as in embodiments 1 and 2) which are joined together at an angle φ with respect to each other. This angle may vary from as few as 10 degrees to as much as 160 degrees depending on the architecture of the building. The most common angles are 90 degrees, 45 degrees, 30 degrees and 60 degrees. FIG. 20 is front elevation view of a lintel structure 8 configured in the form of an arched lintel 8. The arched lintel 8 is of substantially semicircular construction. Arched openings in building structures vary in curvature, therefore the radius of curvature of the arch angle may vary from as few as 2 feet to as many as 20 feet. Typical arched opening require an arched lintel 8 having a radius of approximately 4 feet. Alternatively, the arched lintel 8 may be elliptical or of variable curvature as suited for the design of the arched opening in the building structure. The materials of construction of the angled lintel 7 and arched lintel are substantially as described herein above for the lintels 1, 2 of FIGS. 3-8. Both the angled lintel 7 and the arched lintel 8 may also be provided with adjustable stiffeners 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100 as described herein above for the lintels 3, 4, 5 and 6 of FIGS. 9-18.

While the principles of the invention have now been made clear in illustrated embodiments, there will immediately be obvious to those skilled in the art, many modifications of structure, proportions, elements, materials, and components used in the invention, which are particularly adapted for specific environments and application requirements without departing from those principles. Therefore, by the appended claims, the applicants intend to cover any modifications and other embodiments as incorporate those features which constitute the essential features of this invention.





 
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