Title:
Panel structure for a bowling lane
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A panel structure for a bowling lane may include a lane panel having a first surface and a second surface, the first surface forming a bowling surface of the bowling lane. An underlayment may be disposed adjacent the lane panel. A tapered hole may extend from the first surface of the lane panel to the second surface of the lane panel. The area of the hole may be larger at the first surface than at the second surface. The panel structure may also include a fastener having a head and a securing portion. The head may be disposed in the tapered hole and may have a wall having a taper at substantially the same angle as the tapered hole. The securing portion may extend from the head into the underlayment.



Inventors:
Ford, Gary J. (Chesterfield, VA, US)
Kilpatrick, Mark D. (Richmond, VA, US)
Crouse Jr., Jack H. (Mechanicsville, VA, US)
Hixson, Kenneth L. (Mechanicsville, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/898254
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
07/26/2004
Assignee:
AMF Bowling Products, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63D1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PIERCE, WILLIAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBLUM & BERNSTEIN, P.L.C. (RESTON, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A panel structure for a bowling lane, comprising: a lane panel having a first surface and a second surface, the first surface forming a bowling surface of the bowling lane; an underlayment adjacent the lane panel; a tapered hole extending from the first surface of the lane panel to the second surface of the lane panel, wherein the area of the tapered hole is larger at the first surface than at the second surface; and a fastener having a head and a securing portion, the head being disposed in the tapered hole and having a wall having a taper at substantially the same angle as the tapered hole, the securing portion extending from the head into the underlayment.

2. The panel structure of claim 1, wherein the tapered hole is a conical frustum.

3. The panel structure of claim 1, wherein the head includes a recess formed therein, the recess being configured to receive a tool.

4. The panel structure of claim 3, wherein the recess is configured to receive one of a hex socket wrench and a spanner wrench.

5. The panel structure of claim 1, further comprising a plug disposed within the tapered hole above the fastener.

6. The panel structure of claim 5, wherein the plug includes an upper surface substantially flush with the first surface of the lane panel.

7. The panel structure of claim 5, wherein the plug includes a wall tapered at substantially the same angle as the tapered wall of the tapered hole.

8. The panel structure of claim 5, wherein the head includes a recess formed in a top surface, the plug including a projection configured to project into the recess.

9. The panel structure of claim 5, wherein the plug comprises a generally fluid material.

10. The panel structure of claim 9, wherein the plug is formed of urethane.

11. The panel structure of claim 5, wherein the plug and the head are attached by a ball joint.

12. The panel structure of claim 1, wherein the head of the fastener has a thickness less than a thickness of the lane panel.

13. The panel structure of claim 1, further comprising an insert disposed in the underlayment, the insert being configured to receive the securing portion of the fastener.

14. The panel structure of claim 13, wherein the insert is threaded.

15. The panel structure of claim 1, wherein the head and the securing portion are integral.

16. The panel structure of claim 1, wherein the head is configured to connect onto the securing portion.

17. The panel structure of claim 1, wherein the securing portion includes a first section and a second section, the first section being configured to attach to the head and the second section extending into the underlayment.

18. A bowling lane, comprising: a pin deck; a lane adjacent the pin deck, the lane having a panel structure including a lane panel having a top surface and a bottom surface; an underlayment adjacent the lane panel; a hole formed though the lane panel, the hole being shaped as a frustum; and a fastener having a head and a securing portion, the head being configured to fit in the hole and having a tapered portion tapered at substantially the same angle as the taper of the wall of the hole, the securing portion being configured to connect to the underlayment, wherein the fastener is configured such that the tapered portion contacts the wall of the hole and is configured to apply a force to urge the lane panel toward the underlayment.

19. The bowling lane of claim 18, wherein the hole is a conical frustum.

20. The bowling lane of claim 18, wherein the head includes a recess formed therein, the recess being configured to receive a tool.

21. The bowling lane of claim 20, wherein the recess is configured to receive one of a hex socket wrench and a spanner wrench.

22. The bowling lane of claim 18, further comprising a plug disposed within the hole above the fastener.

23. The bowling lane of claim 22, wherein the plug includes an upper surface substantially flush with the top surface of the lane panel.

24. The bowling lane of claim 22, wherein the plug includes a wall tapered at substantially the same angle as the tapered wall of the hole.

25. The bowling lane of claim 22, wherein the head includes a recess formed in a top surface, the plug including a projection configured to project into the recess.

26. The bowling lane of claim 22, wherein the plug comprises a generally fluid material.

27. The bowling lane of claim 26, wherein the plug is formed of urethane.

28. The bowling lane of claim 22, wherein the plug and the head are attached to each other by a ball joint.

29. The bowling lane of claim 18, wherein the head of the fastener has a thickness less than thickness of the lane panel.

30. The bowling lane of claim 18, further comprising an insert disposed in the underlayment, the insert being configured to receive the securing portion of the fastener.

31. The bowling lane of claim 30, wherein the insert is threaded.

32. The bowling lane of claim 18, wherein the head and the securing portion are integral.

33. The bowling lane of claim 18, wherein the head is configured to connect onto the securing portion.

34. The bowling lane of claim 18, wherein the securing portion includes a first section and a second section, the first section being configured to attach to the head and the second section extending into the underlayment.

35. A method for installing a bowling lane, comprising: forming a tapered hole in a lane panel, the lane panel having a top and a bottom surface, the tapered hole extending from the top surface of the lane panel to the bottom surface of the lane panel, wherein the area of the tapered hole is larger at the top surface than at the bottom surface; placing the lane panel on an underlayment; driving a securing portion of a fastener into the underlayment; and driving a head of the fastener into the tapered hole in the lane panel, the head having a wall having a taper at substantially the same angle as the tapered hole.

36. The method of claim 35, wherein forming the tapered hole includes forming the tapered hole in the shape of a conical frustum.

37. The method of claim 35, wherein driving the head of the fastener includes placing a tool in a recess formed in the head.

38. The method of claim 35, further comprising installing a plug into the tapered hole above the head of the fastener.

39. The method of claim 38, wherein installing the plug includes aligning the plug so that a top surface of the plug is substantially flush with the top surface of the lane panel.

40. The method of claim 38, wherein installing the plug includes introducing a projection on the plug into a recess formed in the top surface of the head.

41. The method of claim 38, wherein installing the plug comprises inserting a generally fluid material into the tapered hole above the head of the fastener.

42. The method of claim 41, wherein inserting a generally fluid material includes pouring a urethane material into the tapered hole.

43. The method of claim 41, wherein the generally fluid material is one of an epoxy, a putty material, and a polymer.

44. The method of claim 38, comprising snapping the plug onto the head.

45. The method of claim 38, wherein installing a plug into the tapered hole includes connecting a ball joint to attach the plug to the head.

46. The method of claim 35, further comprising: forming a hole in the underlayment; and introducing an insert into the hole in the underlayment, the insert being configured to receive the securing portion of the fastener.

47. The method of claim 35, wherein driving the insert into the underlayment includes threading the securing portion into the insert.

48. The method of claim 35, wherein driving a head of the fastener includes attaching the head to the securing portion.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to a bowling lane, and more particularly, to a panel structure for a bowling lane.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Traditional bowling lanes are constructed of strips of hardwood fastened together to form a smooth, flat surface. Recently, paneled surfaces formed of a laminate structure have been used as a lane panel when refurbishing traditional bowling lanes and when installing new bowling lanes. The lane panel is typically attached to an underlayment that may include the original wooden bowling lane surface or, alternatively, some other wooden or metallic structure. The underlayment may provide support and may add stiffness to the lane panel.

The lane panel should be attached to the underlayment in a manner that allows the bowling lane surface to maintain its flatness. Accordingly, during installation, the lane panel may require a number of adjustments to its position. The installation process may include attaching the lane panel to the underlayment, measuring the flatness of the lane panel, detaching the lane panel from the underlayment, shimming between the lane panel and underlayment, and repeating this process until the desired flatness is achieved.

One known method for installing a lane panel includes forming a recess in the lane panel and driving a screw into the recess to the underlayment. Thus, the screw head pushes downward on the bottom of recess. However, such a system applies force in the downward direction only, against the bottom of the recess. Because the thickness of the panel is reduced at the bottom of the recess, the bottom of the recess may be weak and may fracture. In the event that additional adjustment of the lane panel is required, the force from the screw may be removed and re-applied, thereby increasing the risk of fracture. Repairing damage to the lane panel caused by fractured recesses can be time consuming and expensive.

This invention is directed to a system for attaching the lane panel to the underlayment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In the following description, certain aspects and embodiments of the present invention will become evident. It should be understood that the invention, in its broadest sense, could be practiced without having one or more features of these aspects and embodiments. In addition, it should be understood that any features and aspects of one embodiment may be used in the other embodiments. It should also be understood that these aspects and embodiments are merely exemplary.

As embodied and broadly described herein, an aspect of the invention includes a panel structure for a bowling lane. The panel structure may include a lane panel having a top surface and a bottom surface, the top surface forming a bowling surface of the bowling lane. An underlayment may be disposed below the lane panel. A tapered hole may extend from the top surface to the bottom surface of the lane panel. The area of the hole may be larger at the top surface than at the bottom surface. The panel structure may also include a fastener having a head and a securing portion. The head may be disposed in the tapered hole and may have a wall tapered at substantially the same angle as the tapered hole. The securing portion may extend from the head into the underlayment.

In one aspect, the lane panel may be formed of a laminate structure, and the tapered hole may be a conical frustum.

In another aspect, the head includes a recess formed therein. The recess may be configured to receive a tool, such as a hex socket wrench or a spanner wrench. In another aspect, a plug may be disposed within the tapered hole above the fastener. The plug may include an upper surface substantially flush with the top surface of the lane panel. The plug may also include a wall tapered at substantially the same angle as the tapered wall of the hole. In one aspect, the plug may include a projection configured to project into the recess in the head. In another aspect, the plug is formed of a generally fluid material, such as a liquid urethane. In another embodiment, the plug and the head are attached to each other by a ball joint. In another aspect, the head of the fastener has a thickness less than thickness of the lane panel.

In yet another aspect, an insert may be disposed in the underlayment. The insert may be configured to receive the securing portion of the fastener and may include threads.

In one aspect, the head and the securing portion are integral. In another aspect, the head is configured to connect onto the securing portion. The securing portion may include a first section and a second section, with the first section being configured to attach to the head and the second section extending into the underlayment.

Another aspect of the present invention is directed to a method for installing a bowling lane. The method may include forming a tapered hole in a lane panel. The lane panel may be a laminate structure having a top and a bottom surface. The tapered hole may extend from the top surface of the lane panel to the bottom surface of the lane panel. The area of the hole may be larger at the top surface than at the bottom surface. The lane panel may be placed on an underlayment. A securing portion of a fastener may be driven into the underlayment. A head of the fastener may be driven into the tapered hole in the lane panel. The head may have a wall tapered at substantially the same angle as the tapered hole.

In addition to the structural and procedural arrangements set forth above, the invention could include a number of other arrangements such as those explained hereinafter. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary only.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description, serve to explain some principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of an exemplary bowling lane.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic representation of an isometric view of an exemplary paneling structure.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation of a cross-sectional view of the assembled paneling structure of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic representation of an isometric view of another exemplary embodiment of a paneling structure.

FIG. 5a is a diagrammatic representation of a cross-sectional view of the assembled paneling structure of FIG. 4.

FIG. 5b is another diagrammatic representation of a cross-sectional view of an assembled paneling structure.

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic representation of an isometric view of another exemplary embodiment of a paneling structure.

FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic representation of a cross-sectional view of the assembled paneling structure of FIG. 6.

FIGS. 8A, 8B, and 8C are diagrammatic representations of another exemplary embodiment of a paneling structure.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to exemplary embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

As described in more detail below, embodiments of the present invention include a hole with tapered walls extending through a lane panel. The lane panel is secured to an underlayment by a fastener having a tapered head extending into the hole in the lane panel. The tapered head contacts the tapered walls of the hole, urging the lane panel toward the underlayment. The contact applies a force against the lane panel having a component in both the vertical and horizontal directions. Because the hole is a through hole, lacking a recess, and because applied forces are not only in the downward direction, the lane panel may be less likely to fracture during installation. Accordingly, installation of the lane panel may be more efficient and cost effective.

FIG. 1 illustrates a bowling lane 100 consistent with an aspect of the present invention. The bowling lane 100 includes a pin deck 102, lane panels 104, an approach area 106, and gutters 108. The upper surface of any of the pin deck 102, lane panels 104, and the approach area 106 may form the visible surface of the bowling lane 100, and may constitute a bowling surface 109. The pin deck 102, the lane panels 104, and/or the approach area 106 may be formed of a paneling structure 110 shown in greater detail in FIGS. 2-8.

FIGS. 2 and 3 are perspective and cross-sectional views, respectively, of a portion of a paneling structure 110 consistent with a further aspect of the present invention. The paneling structure 110 may include a lane panel 112, an underlayment 114, and a fastener 116. The lane panel 112 may be formed of any of a number of suitable materials, including, for example, a solid phenolic panel, a laminate structure of sheets bonded to a particle board, and a wooden panel. Other materials may also be used. In one exemplary embodiment, the lane panel 112 is formed of a phenolic laminate panel. The laminate panel may include sheets of phenolic soaked craft paper and a decorative layer (not shown), bonded together with a high pressure bonding process known in the art. The decorative surface of the lane panel 112 may form the bowling surface 109 (shown in FIG. 1) of the bowling lane 100, and may be an image, such as an image of wooden strips. In another exemplary embodiment, the lane panel 112 may include a melamine layer forming the top surface of the bowling lane 100. In one exemplary embodiment, the thickness of the lane panel 112 is within the range of about 0.3 to 1.5 inches. However, the lane panel could have a different thickness as would be apparent to one skilled in the art.

The lane panel 112 includes a top or first surface 118 and a bottom or second surface 120. A hole 122 extends through the lane panel 112 from the top surface 118 to the bottom surface 120. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the hole 122 is a conical frustum including a tapered wall 123 (FIG. 3). Accordingly, the hole 122 may have a first diameter at the top surface 118 and a second, relatively smaller, diameter at the bottom surface 120 of the lane panel 112. A taper angle θ, measured at the walls of the hole 122, may be, in one exemplary embodiment, within a range of 20 to 120 degrees. In another exemplary embodiment, the taper angel θ is within a range of 30 to 40 degrees.

The underlayment 114 includes a top surface 124 and is located below the lane panel 112. The underlayment 114 may be formed of a medium or high density fiberboard, oriented strand board, plywood, structural wood, metallic supports, a previously provided bowling lane surface, a structural foundation, and/or other suitable materials. The underlayment 114 may provide support and stability to the lane panel 112.

The fastener 116 includes a head 126 and a securing portion 128. The head 126 includes a tapered wall 130, a top surface 132, and a bottom surface 133. As seen in FIG. 3, the tapered wall 130 of the head 126 is formed at an angle that substantially aligns with the taper angle θ of the hole 122 formed in the lane panel 112. In addition, the bottom surface 133 of the head 126 may have a diameter that is substantially equal to or greater than the diameter of the bottom of the hole 122, at the bottom surface 120. This helps ensure that the bottom of the fastener 116 does not pass through the bottom of the hole 122.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the height of the head 126 substantially corresponds to the height of the lane panel 112. Therefore, when fully installed, the top surface 132 of the head 126 is substantially flush with the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112, and the bottom surface 133 of the head 126 is substantially flush with the bottom surface 120 of the lane panel 112.

The top surface 132 of the head 126 may include a recess 134 formed to receive a tool for rotating the head 126 to drive or screw the securing portion into the underlayment 114. The tool may be, for example, a hex-headed socket wrench. The recess 134 may be formed to fit other tools as may be apparent to one skilled in the art. In one exemplary embodiment, the surface 132 includes multiple recesses that may be configured to receive a tool, such as a spanner wrench.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the securing portion 128 is integrally attached to and extends from the head 126. The securing portion 128 may include threads for grabbing, such as, for example, those found on a wood screw. In one exemplary embodiment, a hole (not shown) may be preformed in the underlayment 114, and the securing portion 128 may be a dowel that may be secured into the preformed hole with, for example, an adhesive. The securing portion 128 may be any length sufficient to attach to the underlayment 114 and, in one embodiment, has a length of about 1.75 inches. However, other lengths may be used. In one exemplary embodiment, the diameter of the securing portion 128 is less than the diameter of the bottom surface 133 of the head 126, and likewise, may be less than the diameter of the hole 122 at the bottom surface 120 of the lane panel 112. In another exemplary embodiment, the diameter of the bottom surface 133 of the head 126 is about equal to the diameter of the hole 122 at the bottom surface 120.

As shown in FIG. 3, the securing portion 128 protrudes into the underlayment 114. Accordingly, when the fastener 116 is driven through the hole 122 of the lane panel 112, the head 126 contacts and urges the lane panel 112 against the underlayment 114. In some exemplary embodiments, shims or other materials may be applied between the underlayment 114 and the lane panel 112.

FIGS. 4, 5a, and 5b show a portion of another paneling structure 110 consistent with a further aspect of the present invention. In this embodiment, the head 126 has a height less than the lane panel 112. Accordingly, as best seen in FIGS. 5a and 5b, when the fastener 116 is driven through the hole 122 into the underlayment 114, the top surface 132 of the head 126 is recessed below the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112.

In this exemplary aspect, a plug 140 is included as a part of the paneling structure 110. The plug 140 may be formed of any material including a material that is the same as, or a material that is different, from the lane panel 112. In one exemplary embodiment, the plug 140 is formed of the same material used to form the head 126.

The plug 140 includes a tapered surface 142, a top surface 144, and a bottom surface 146. The tapered surface 142 may be formed at an angle that substantially aligns with the taper angle θ of the hole 122 formed in the lane panel 112. The height and diameter of the plug 140 may be established so that the top surface 144 of the plug 140 is substantially flush with the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112 when the plug 140 is installed in the hole 122. In one exemplary embodiment, the plug 140 may be configured so that, when installed in the hole 122, a gap is formed between the top surface 132 of the head 126 and the bottom surface 146 of the plug 140. In another exemplary embodiment, the plug 140 is configured so that the bottom surface 146 of the plug 140 is flush against the top surface 132 of the head 126.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5a, the plug 140 includes a projection 148 extending from its bottom surface 146 that is configured to fit within the recess 134 of the fastener 116. The projection 148 may have any shape, including, for example, a hex socket shape, that may match or fit within the shape of the recess 134. Securing the projection 148 to the fastener 116 in the hole 122 aids in reducing the chance of dislocation of the plug 140 from the hole 122. The projection 148 may be secured in the recess by any method, including, for example, a friction fit or an adhesive. In addition, the plug 140 may be secured within the hole 122 with an adhesive. In one exemplary embodiment, the plug 140 does not include the projection 148, but is secured to the fastener 116 and/or the tapered wall 123 of the hole 122 using an adhesive.

In yet another embodiment, the plug 140 is formed in the hole 122. In this embodiment, a generally fluid material, such, for example, a liquid, epoxy, polymer, or putty-type material, may be placed in the hole after insertion of the fastener 126. The fluid material may be any material capable of forming to the shape of the hole 122, and may set, dry, or harden in the hole 122 to form the plug 140. In one exemplary embodiment, the plug 140 may be formed of pourable urethane. The urethane may be poured into the hole 122 in a substantially liquid form, and may harden, forming the plug 140 with the top surface 132 of the plug 140 being substantially flush with the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112.

FIG. 5b shows another exemplary embodiment of the paneling structure 110. In this embodiment, the paneling structure 110 includes a ball joint 170 connecting the head 126 of the fastener 116 to the plug 140. As shown, the ball joint 170 includes a ball 172 formed on the head 126 and a recess 174 formed in the plug 140. The recess 174 receives the ball 172 to connect the plug 140 to the head 126. In the embodiment shown the recess 174 is formed in the shape of a ball to have a narrow opening and a wider cavity, thereby enabling the recess 174 to snap onto the ball 172. Because of the ball joint 170, the orientation of the plug 140 is not dependent on the straightness of the head 126, and the plug 140 can connect to the head 126 when the head 126 is not straight within the hole 122. Therefore, the top surface 144 of the plug 140 may lie flush with the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112, even if the fastener 116 is installed at an angle. In addition, the ball joint 170 helps hold the plug within the hole 122. It should be noted that the ball could be on the plug 140 and the recess could be in the head 126. It should also be noted that an adhesive could be used in combination with the ball joint.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are perspective and cross-sectional views, respectively, of a portion of yet another paneling structure 110 consistent with a further aspect of the present invention. This embodiment includes an insert 150 that may be inserted into a pre-drilled hole 152 in the underlayment 114. The insert 150 may be a cylindrical insert formed of any material, including, for example, a metal, plastic, or wooden material, and may be configured to receive threads of the securing portion 128 of the fastener 116. In one exemplary embodiment, the insert 150 may be removably disposed within the underlayment 114. Therefore, if the insert 150 were to become damaged or stripped, it may be removed and replaced with a new insert. However, it should be apparent that the insert 150 may also be permanently installed within the underlayment 114.

In one exemplary embodiment, the insert 150 contains internal threads that correspond in size and type with threads on the securing portion 128 of the fastener 116. Accordingly, in this embodiment, the securing portion 128 may be a machine screw threadable into the insert 150. In one exemplary embodiment, the plug 140, described with reference to FIGS. 4, 5a and 5b, may be used with the fastener 116 described with reference to FIGS. 6 and 7.

In another exemplary embodiment, the insert 150 is an expansion type insert having one or more slits extending from a bottom surface, substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the fastener, toward a top surface. The slits may extend less than the complete length of the fastener. The sides of the insert may be tapered with an outer diameter at the top surface being less than the outer diameter at the bottom surface. The insert may be configured so that as the securing portion 128 moves through the insert from the top surface, the bottom surface expands, widening the slits, and forcing the bottom surface of the insert against the wall of the hole 152. It is anticipated that other types of inserts could be used and are meant to be within the scope of this disclosure.

The insert may guide the fastener 116 into the hole, aiding in keeping the fastener 116 substantially perpendicular to the upper surface 118 of the lane panel 112. This may be beneficial to ensure that the top surface 132 of the head 126 sits substantially flush with, or substantially parallel to, the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112.

FIGS. 8A, 8B, and 8C are cross-sectional views of a portion of another exemplary paneling structure 110 at different stages during assembly. In a first stage shown in FIG. 8A, the lane panel 112 includes the hole 122 having the tapered wall 123 extending from the top surface 118 to the bottom surface 120. In a second stage, FIG. 8B shows the fastener 116 including the head 126 and the securing portion 128. In this exemplary embodiment, the head 126 is separate from the securing portion 128. The head 126 includes a bore 160 formed in the bottom surface 133. The bore 160 may be configured to receive a part of the securing portion 128 and may include threads that may correspond to threads on the securing portion. Alternatively, the bore 160 may be smooth or have other suitable surface features. In addition, in the embodiment shown, the head includes two recesses 134 formed in the top surface 132 that are configured to be used when driving the head 126. The recesses 134 could be formed to fit a spanner wrench, or other tool. It should be noted that the head could include any number of recesses, including one or more than two. In addition, in one embodiment, the head does not include any recesses.

The securing portion 128 includes a first section 162 and a second section 164. In one exemplary embodiment, the first section 162 includes threads, such as those used on a machine screw, and the second section 164 includes threads, such as those used on a wood screw. In the exemplary embodiment shown, the first section 162 is disposed substantially within the hole 122 in the lane panel 112 and the second section 164 is disposed substantially within the underlayment 114.

It should be noted that in one exemplary embodiment, the securing portion 128 is threaded entirely with a machine screw thread or entirely threaded with a wood screw thread. In another exemplary embodiment, one or more of the sections of the securing portion 128 is a dowel that may be secured to the underlayment 114 and/or the head 126 using, for example, an adhesive.

In a third stage, FIG. 8C shows that the head 126 may be threaded onto, or otherwise attached to, the first section 162. The tapered wall 130 of the head 126 contacts the tapered wall 123 of the hole 122, forcing the lane panel 112 downward against the underlayment 114.

A method for constructing a bowling lane will now be described. The method includes a step of forming a hole 122 in a lane panel 1.12. The hole 122 may extend from the top surface 118 of the lane panel 112 to the bottom surface 120 of the lane panel 112. The hole 122 may be a through hole including a tapered wall 123, such that the hole is a frustum or a conical shape. Therefore, the diameter of the hole 122 is larger at the top surface 118 than at the bottom surface 120.

In one exemplary embodiment, the method may also include a step of forming a hole within the underlayment 114, such as the hole 152. The insert 150 may be inserted within the hole 152 and may be secured within the hole 152, such as by an adhesive, or other method known in the art.

The lane panel 112 may be placed on the underlayment 114. The fastener 116 having a head 126 and a securing portion 128 may be driven through the hole 122 in the lane panel 112 into the underlayment 114, or in some embodiments, such the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, into the insert 150 in the underlayment 114.

In some methods, referring to FIGS. 8a-8c, the securing portion 128 may be driven into the underlayment 114 prior to placing the lane panel 112. Then, the hole 122 in the lane panel 112 may be aligned with the securing portion 128, and the lane panel 112 may be placed on the underlayment so that the securing portion 128 protrudes into the hole 122.

As described above, the head 126 may include a tapered wall 130 substantially corresponding to the taper angle θ of the tapered wall 123 of the hole 122. In addition, the head 126 may be sized so that the bottom surface 133 of the head 126 has a diameter that is equal to or greater than the diameter of the hole 122 at the bottom surface 120 of the lane panel 112. Accordingly, the head 126 may be configured so that it is maintained within the hole 122.

The head 126 may be threaded or driven downward into the hole 122, such that the tapered wall 130 of the head 126 contacts the tapered wall 123 of the hole 122. Driving the head 126 further may force or urge the lane panel 112 downward against the underlayment 114 or against a material between the lane panel 112 and the underlayment 114.

The flatness of the lane panel 112 may then be measured using methods known in the art. If the flatness is outside desired tolerances, the fastener 126 may be loosened until the lane panel 112 may be raised. A shim may be placed between the lane panel 112 and underlayment 114. The head 126 may again be threaded or driven downward until the lane panel 112 is secure, and the flatness may be re-measured.

In the embodiment using the insert 150, such as the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, if the insert becomes stripped or unusable, the insert may be removed and replaced with a new insert. Alternatively, a fastener 116 having a larger diameter securing portion 128 may be used.

Some methods may also include a step of installing the plug 140 into the hole 122 after the fastener 116 is driven into the hole 122. In one exemplary embodiment, such as the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4, 5a, and 5b, the top surface of the plug 140 may be configured to align substantially flush with the top surface 118 of the underlayment. The method may include an additional step of installing a projection 148 on the bottom surface 146 of the plug 140 into the recess 134 formed in the head 126 of the fastener 116. In another exemplary embodiment, the step of installing the plug 140 may include installing a generally fluid material into the hole 122. The generally fluid material could be for example, a liquid, epoxy, polymer, or putty-type material, or any material capable of forming to the shape of the hole 122. The generally fluid material may set, dry, or harden in the hole 122 to form the plug 140. One exemplary method includes pouring urethane into the hole 122. The urethane may harden, forming the plug 140 with the top surface 132 of the plug 140 being substantially flush with the top surface 118 of the lane panel. In yet another embodiment, such as the embodiment shown in FIG. 5b, the plug 140 may be snapped onto the head 126. This may be accomplished using a ball joint connecting a ball on the head 126 to a recess in the plug 140, or vice versa.

The paneling structure of the present invention may provide increased efficiency of bowling lane installation by applying a force with a fastener against the lane panel having a component in both the vertical and horizontal directions. Because the hole is a through hole, lacking a recess, and because applied forces are not only in the downward direction, the lane panel may be less likely to fracture during installation.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the structure and methodology described herein. In addition, it will be apparent that the description of any one disclosed embodiment may be used to describe relevant portions of any other disclosed embodiment. Further, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the examples discussed in the specification. Rather, the present invention is intended to cover modifications and variations.





 
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