Title:
Connectors for roofs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ridge or wall plate end assembly for a hipped roof is disclosed in which panel-supporting elongate members of the hipped roof are connected to the ridge or wall plate end by connectors which are angularly adjustable to allow for the correction of pitch mismatches. Also disclosed is the coupling of an eaves beam forming part of the roof of a building structure, such as a conservatory, to the underlying building side wall by means of an intermediate connector thereby allowing eaves beam designs with a closed cross section to be readily fitted. The eaves beam and connector are coupled together in such a way as to avoid the need for a separate device such as a screw to render them captive to one another in use.



Inventors:
Jones, Dennis Anthony (Nantwich, GB)
Application Number:
11/220242
Publication Date:
03/09/2006
Filing Date:
09/06/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KENNY, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bracewell LLP (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A ridge beam or wall plate end assembly for a hipped roof in which at least one panel-supporting elongate member of the hipped roof is connected to the ridge beam or wall plate end by a connector which provides for roof pitch adjustment or variation at spaced locations relative to the axes of the elongate members, the connector comprising first and second parts which are respectively connected to the associated supporting member and ridge beam or wall plate end and are angularly adjustable relative to one another to allow roof pitch adjustment or variation at a first location, and the second connector part being pivotally connected to the ridge or wall plate end in a manner allowing pitch adjustment or variation at a second location.

2. A connector for use in connecting panel-supporting bars to the ridge beam or wall plate end of a hipped roof to provide for roof pitch adjustment or variation, the connector comprising a first part for connection to the supporting bar and a second part provided with a formation by means of which the second part can be engaged with a mounting element associated with the ridge beam or wall plate end to provide a first location of roof pitch adjustment or variation, the first and second parts being angularly adjustable relative to one another at a location spaced from said formation thereby affording a second location of roof pitch adjustment or variation.

3. A connector as claimed in claim 2 in which the first and second connector parts are infinitely adjustable or are adjustable relative to one another in discrete steps.

4. An connector as claimed in claim 2 in which the connector is provided with an arrangement or device for securing the desired angle of adjustment between said first and second parts once any mismatch has been corrected for.

5. A connector as claimed in claim 2 in which the connector includes an arrangement or device defining at least one predetermined angle of adjustment.

6. A connector as claimed in claim 2 in which the connector is designed so that when coupled to a respective supporting member, the location of angular adjustment between the first and second parts is located beyond the end of the supporting member.

7. A connector as claimed in claim 2 in which: the first part is provided with a vertically disposed section which is designed to be positioned in overlapping relation with, and secured to, a generally vertical wall of the supporting member; and/or the second part terminates in a formation comprising a recess such as a hook-like formation by means of which it can be engaged with the mounting element.

8. A connector as claimed in claim 2 in which the connector is arranged to couple the associated panel-supporting member to the ridge beam or wall plate end through an arcuate member and in which the axis of angular adjustment between the connector parts is located between an end of the panel-supporting member and the arcuate member.

9. A connector as claimed in claim 1 in which the connector is provided with means for locating a sealing material, optionally in the form of one or more strips of sealing material, between the panel supported, in use, by a pair of panel supporting members and an overlying end cap associated with the ridge beam or wall plate end.

10. A connector as claimed in claim 9 in which the strip locating means is provided on the first part of the connector.

11. A building structure in which an eaves beam of the roof is mounted at the top of a side wall of the building and is connected thereto by an intermediate connector underlying the base of the eaves beam and overlying the top of the building side wall, the intermediate connector being adapted to be rendered captive to the eaves beam in use without the need for a separate device or devices.

12. A structure as claimed in claim 11, the intermediate connector and the eaves beam being provided with interfitting formations which allow the beam to be engaged with the connector by means of lateral relative movement.

13. A structure as claimed in claim 12 in which the formations comprise at least one channel on one component, e.g. the connector, and at least one lip on the other component, e.g. the eaves beam, for insertion into the channel.

14. A structure as claimed in claim 12 in which the arrangement of the formations is such that they co-operate to prevent or restrict lateral movement of the eaves beam in one direction (in use, outwardly of the building side wall) without necessarily preventing or restricting lateral movement of the eaves beam in the opposite direction.

15. A structure as claimed in claim 12 in which two or more sets of such formations are provided, one set being located adjacent an outer edge of the eaves beam (with respect to the building) and a second set located adjacent an inner edge of the eaves beam.

16. A structure as claimed in claim 12 in which the side wall comprises one or more window frames and/or door frames to which the eaves beam is connected by an intermediate connector and in which the intermediate connector is connected to frame components forming part of the side wall, e.g. an underlying window frame(s) and/or door frame(s), through the agency of elements enabling them to be coupled together with snap or press fit engagement, said elements optionally being integrally formed with the connector and frame member(s).

17. A structure as claimed in claim 16 in which said elements comprise formations projecting downwardly from the underside of the connector for snap fit or press fit engagement with formations projecting upwardly from the underlying frame component(s).

18. A structure as claimed in claim 11, the intermediate connector being adapted to be coupled to the eaves beam by interfitting formations which allow the eaves beam and connector to be engaged by registering them in end to end relationship and sliding them relative to one another in the direction of elongation of the eaves beam.

19. A structure as claimed in claim 18 in which the formations include at least one channel or groove and an associated insertion portion slidably receivable in the channel or groove.

20. A structure as claimed in claim 18 in which at least one of said formations is generally L-shaped or T-shaped.

21. A connector as claimed in claim 2 in which the second connector part and the mounting element are provided with co-operating bearing surfaces which permit pivoting of the connector part in a generally vertical plane.

22. A connector as claimed in claim 21 in which the co-operating bearing surfaces allow the position of the second connector part to be adjusted angularly about the ridge beam or wall plate end.

23. A connector as claimed in claim 21 in which at least one of the bearing surfaces is of generally cylindrical configuration, at least in part.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of United Kingdom Patent Application No. 0419714.1, filed on Sep. 6, 2004, United Kingdom Patent Application No. 0422601.5, filed on Oct. 12, 2004, and United Kingdom Patent Application No. 0427579.8, filed on Dec. 16, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to connectors for roofs and, in particular, connectors for roofs of the hipped type and connectors for use in connecting roof components to the top of a side wall or walls of a building.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In roofs of the hipped type, especially for buildings such as conservatories and greenhouses, elongate panel supporting bars radiate from one end of a structure which may be a ridge structure or wall plate structure, the supporting bars being connected between the end of a ridge beam or wall plate and an eaves beam so as to support generally triangular roofing panels between adjacent supporting bars.

One problem encountered with hipped roofs is that of avoiding mismatch in roof pitch between different roof sections. This is especially important in the case where glass roofing panels are used because of the rigidity of glass compared with materials such as polycarbonate.

In the past, attempts have been made to introduce some flexibility into the hipped roof design to allow for mismatches in pitch to be corrected. For instance, one approach has involved coupling the supporting bars to a vertically adjustable carrier mounted at the end of the ridge beam. In another solution, the carrier is designed so that it can be assembled to the ridge beam end in one of two orientations which correspond to a steeper and less steep pitch respectively. The carrier may include a so-called D-ring to which the supporting bars are pivotally connectable and a number of carriers can be manufactured, each with the D-ring in a different location so that pitch variation can be obtained by selecting a carrier with an appropriately positioned D-ring.

By and large, these solutions have not proved entirely satisfactory and this is especially the case where the roofing panels are made of glass because of the reduced tolerance of glass to pitch mismatch compared with, for example, polycarbonate.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention seeks to provide an improved system for coupling the supporting bars of a hipped roof to a ridge beam or wall plate end.

According to the present invention insofar as it pertains to connectors for roofs of the hipped type there is provided a ridge beam or wall plate end assembly in which at least one panel-supporting elongate member of the hipped roof is connected to the ridge beam or wall plate end by a connector which provides for roof pitch adjustment or variation at spaced locations relative to the axes of the elongate members, the connector comprising first and second parts which are respectively connected to the associated supporting member and ridge beam or wall plate end and are angularly adjustable relative to one another to allow roof pitch adjustment or variation at a first location, and the second connector part being pivotally connected to the ridge or wall plate end in a manner allowing pitch adjustment or variation at a second location.

By providing for first and locations of roof pitch adjustment or variation, greater flexibility is afforded without undue complexity of design since the attitude of each supporting member can be varied during installation at two locations, i.e. with reference to spaced axes about which movement of the supporting member in a generally vertical plane is possible, thereby allowing pitch mismatches between the supporting members to be reduced or eliminated.

The connector parts may be infinitely adjustable relative to one another or they may be adjustable in discrete steps, the former being presently preferred since the amount of adjustment required to correct for mismatch is usually only relatively fine.

The connector parts may be provided with means for securing the desired angle of adjustment once any mismatch has been corrected for. Such means may include at least one aperture spaced from the axis of angular adjustment and arranged to receive a bolt or like fastener by means of which a desired angle of adjustment may be set. Alternatively or additionally, such means may be in the form of a clamping arrangement operable to secure relatively movable parts of the connector together in a selected position of angular adjustment. The clamping arrangement may for instance be used to temporarily set the desired adjustment while the aperture and bolt arrangement is implemented to obtain a permanently fixed setting.

At least one of the connectors may include a means defining at least one predetermined angle of adjustment consistent with the pitch normally employed for the supporting bars so that if there is no problem with pitch mismatch, that particular angle of adjustment may be used. Such means may comprise a pair of apertures provided in respective relatively movable parts of the connector such that, in the desired position of angular adjustment, the apertures are in registry with one another for reception of a bolt or the like to allow that angle to be fixed.

The supporting members will usually be metal extrusions of for example aluminum or an alloy thereof.

Each connector may be designed so that when coupled to a respective supporting member, the location of angular adjustment is located beyond the end of the supporting member, e.g. at a location between the end of the supporting bar and the ridge beam or wall plate end.

Also according to the present invention insofar as it pertains to connectors for roofs of the hipped type there is provided a connector for use in connecting panel-supporting bars to the ridge beam or wall plate end of a hipped roof to provide for roof pitch adjustment or variation, the connector comprising a first part for connection to the supporting bar and a second part provided with a formation by means of which the second part can be engaged with a mounting element associated with the ridge beam or wall plate end to provide a first location of roof pitch adjustment or variation, the first and second parts being angularly adjustable relative to one another at a location spaced from said formation thereby affording a second location of roof pitch adjustment or variation.

The first part may be provided with a vertically disposed section which is designed to be positioned in overlapping relation with, and secured to, a generally vertical wall of the supporting member.

The second part may be terminate in a recess, e.g. a hook-like formation, by means of which it can be engaged with the mounting element, for example where the latter is of arcuate configuration, e.g. part-circular, so that a number of supporting members can be mounted at different positions along the arcuate element so as to extend in radiating fashion from the ridge beam or wall plate end.

The mounting element may for example be in the form of a D-ring or a half D-ring (in the case where it is associated with a wall plate).

The connectors of the present invention may be generally of the same form as those used for hipped roof structures as disclosed in my prior published U.S. Patent Application No. 2003-0024175A, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by this reference.

For instance, the connectors of the present invention may be provided with means for locating one or more lengths of sealing material between the panels supported, in use, by the panel supporting members and an overlying end cap associated with the ridge beam or wall plate end. The strip locating means may be provided on a part of the connector which is designed to be fixedly connected to the panel-supporting members.

The length or lengths of sealing material may be in the form of strips located with one edge contacting the panels and the opposite edge contacting or in close proximity to the underside of the cap.

The strip material may have sealing contact at least with the panels and, optionally, with the end cap so as to achieve weatherproofing to a substantial extent, especially with respect to ingress of rainwater.

The locating means may form part of the connectors or, alternatively, may be provided on separate components which are adapted to be fitted to the connectors.

The locating means may be formed by spaced flanges which extend substantially transversely to the panel-supporting members, the flanges being arranged so that a section of the sealing material can be inserted in and retained in position by the flanges.

At least one of the flanges may be provided with an upstanding flexible sealing gasket for co-operation with the overlying end cap.

The connectors may be provided with drainage channels for directing any water penetrating beneath the cap to channels provided on the supporting bars.

The drainage channels may be provided directly on the connectors or, alternatively, on separate components adapted to be fitted to the connectors, which components will usually be the same components as referred to above but the possibility of different components being used is not excluded.

The drainage channels may be formed by lateral extensions which may be arranged to contact the undersides of the panels in the proximity of the ridge beam or wall plate end.

The extensions may be provided with gaskets for sealing contact with the undersides of the panels.

The flanges and/or the extensions may be integrally formed with the connectors.

In other aspects thereof, the present invention relates to a connector for use in connection of roof components of a building such as a conservatory or sunroom to the top of a side wall or walls of the building. The side walls of the building may be fabricated using framework components and/or building blocks such as bricks and may include one or more window frames and/or door frames.

The invention has particular application to buildings in which an eaves beam is mounted at the top of the building side wall to locate the lower ends of roofing panel-supporting bars which extend upwardly to a ridge beam or wall plate of the roof.

Where the eaves beam is of L-shaped configuration in cross section or other open cross section with a base and an upstanding portion, attachment of the eaves beam to the top of the building side wall is relatively simple since fasteners such as screws can be readily inserted through the base for engagement with the underlying side wall.

However, eaves beams of L or other open section tend to lack structural strength especially where the eaves beam has to span a substantial gap such as a door opening. For this reason, the present applicant prefers to use eaves beam designs which are of box or closed configuration in cross section since such designs confer greater structural strength and resist bending under load as compared with designs of L or open section.

A problem arising out of the use of eaves beam with closed cross sections is that the beam cannot be simply connected to the underlying side wall by insertion of screws or the like through the base of the beam because the closed cross section renders the base less readily accessible.

A need therefore exists for readily connecting an eaves beam to the underlying side wall of a building structure, especially when the eaves beam is one having a closed cross section.

According to a first aspect of the present invention, insofar as it pertains to connecting eaves beams to building side walls, there is provided a building structure in which an eaves beam of the roof is mounted at the top of a side wall of the building and is connected thereto by an intermediate connector underlying the base of the eaves beam and overlying the top of the building side wall, the intermediate connector being adapted to be rendered captive to the eaves beam in use without the need for a separate device or devices.

The eaves beam may seat on the intermediate connector and be coupled to the same in such a way that the outwardly directed force exerted on the eaves beam by the roof structure cannot decouple the eaves beam and the intermediate connector.

According to a second aspect of the invention, insofar as it pertains to connecting eaves beams to building side walls, a building structure in which an eaves beam of the roof is mounted at the top of a side wall of the building and is connected thereto by an intermediate connector underlying the base of the eaves beam and overlying the top of the building side wall, the intermediate connector and the eaves beam being provided with interfitting formations which allow the beam to be engaged with the connector by means of lateral relative movement.

In one embodiment of the invention, the formations may comprise at least one channel on one component, e.g. the connector, and at least one lip on the other component, e.g. the eaves beam, for insertion into the channel. There may be more than one lip and channel set associated with the two components.

The channel formation may be arranged with its mouth presented generally horizontally for reception of the lip.

The arrangement of the formations may be such that they co-operate to prevent or restrict lateral movement of the eaves beam in one direction (in use, outwardly of the building side wall) without necessarily preventing or restricting lateral movement of the eaves beam in the opposite direction. This allows the eaves beam to be assembled with the intermediate connector in a simple manner, as will become more apparent when reference is made to the embodiments illustrated herein.

Two or more sets of such formations may be provided, one set being located adjacent an outer edge of the eaves beam (with respect to the building) and a second set located adjacent an inner edge of the eaves beam.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, insofar as it pertains to connecting eaves beams to building side walls, there is provided a building structure in which an eaves beam of the roof is mounted at the top of a side wall of the building and is connected thereto by an intermediate connector underlying the base of the eaves beam and overlying the top of the building side wall, the intermediate connector being adapted to be coupled to the eaves beam by interfitting formations which allow the eaves beam and connector to be engaged by registering them in end to end relationship and sliding them relative to one another in the direction of elongation of the eaves beam.

In one embodiment of said third aspect of the invention, the formations permitting endwise sliding interengagement between the intermediate connector and the eaves beam may comprise at least one channel or groove on one component, e.g. the connector, and at least one portion on the other component, e.g. the eaves beam, for endwise insertion into the channel or groove such that the components are rendered captive with each other, in use, whereby the outwardly directed forces exerted on the eaves beam by the roof structure cannot decouple the two components by relative movement in a lateral direction with respect to the axis of elongation of the eaves beam.

There may be more than one channel or groove and insertion portion associated with the two components.

The insertion portion(s) may be generally L-shaped or T-shaped.

In the invention, insofar as it pertains to connectors for roofs of the hipped type and to connecting eaves beams to building side walls:

The eaves beam is preferably of closed cross section, such as a box section configuration. However, we do not exclude the possibility of the eaves beam being of open cross section, e.g. L-section.

The side wall of the building may be fabricated from building blocks, e.g. brickwork, with the eaves beam located above the uppermost run of blocks.

The side wall may comprise one or more window frames and/or door frames to which the eaves beam is connected by an intermediate connector.

The arrangement is such that the intermediate connector may be first affixed to the building side wall at the top thereof (e.g. by means of fasteners such as screws engaged with the blocks and/or window and/or door frames forming part of the side wall) and the eaves beam is then engaged with the connector.

Where the intermediate connector is to be connected to an underlying window frame(s) and/or door frame(s), the frame component(s) and the connector may be provided with means enabling them to be coupled together with a snap or press fit engagement.

Such means may for instance comprise formations projecting downwardly from the underside of the connector for snap fit or press fit engagement with formations projecting upwardly from the underlying frame component(s).

The intermediate connector may be of elongate configuration and may be substantially co-extensive with the overlying eaves beam. Alternatively, two or more intermediate connectors may be associated with the eaves beam. The length of the intermediate connector will typically be such that it spans the width of at least one window frame of the underlying building side wall.

The intermediate connector(s) may be produced by extrusion, e.g. of plastics or metal (e.g. aluminum or aluminum alloy).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The various aspects and features of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one end of a conservatory roof of the hipped type showing a number of panel-supporting bars radiating from the ridge end;

FIG. 2 is a side view showing coupling of one supporting bar to the ridge structure, with the ridge structure and supporting bar sections also illustrated; and

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a bar and connector;

FIG. 4 is view illustrating connection of the upper end of a panel-supporting bar to the D-ring associated with a conservatory ridge structure using a connector in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic line drawing showing part of a conservatory from a side elevation, the conservatory having the eaves beam thereof connected to the side walls by intermediate connectors in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 6 is a corresponding plan view of the conservatory;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary exploded view in perspective showing the upper frame member of a window, an eaves beam and an intermediate connector for coupling the eaves beam and window frame member together;

FIG. 8 is a view similar to that of FIG. 7 but showing the components coupled together;

FIGS. 9 and 10 are views similar to those of FIGS. 8 and 9 showing an alternative form of intermediate connector suitable for attachment to the top of a brickwork or other wall of a building; and

FIG. 11 is an end view showing an alternative embodiment to those shown in FIGS. 7 to 10.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the drawings, FIGS. 1 to 3 show a hipped roof design in accordance with the invention disclosed in my co-pending U.S. Patent Application No. 2003-0024175A whilst FIG. 4 illustrates a modified form of connector in accordance with the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1 to 3 of the drawings, the hipped roof section of a conservatory roof comprises a number of elongated, panel-supporting bars 10 which are linked to the ridge structure 12 by means of connectors 14 which engage in pivotal fashion with a mounting element 16 of arcuate configuration located at the end of the ridge structure. The ridge structure 12 and the supporting bars 10 are typically produced as extrusions with the cross-sections illustrated in FIG. 2.

The bars 10 extend between the ridge structure 12 and an eaves beam (not shown) and roofing panels 18 (see FIG. 2) are supported between adjacent pairs of bars. The roofing panels are typically in the form of polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride or glass, each panel being supported at its edges by the bars 10.

Each bar 10 comprises an inner member 20 and an outer member 22 either of both of which may be manufactured as aluminum extrusions. The panels 18, in use, are trapped between the inner and outer members 20, 22 and extend from the eaves beam to a point proximate the ridge end. The inner member 20 is generally T-shaped comprising a central portion 24 and a cross-piece 26 which has upwardly directed flanges 28 forming shoulders on which the inner faces at the panel edges of the panels 18 can seat. The construction and design of the bars 10 is described in detail in prior U.S. Patent Application No. 2003-0024175A, the entire disclosure of which are incorporated herein by this reference. For present purposes, a notable feature of the inner member 20 is the provision of channels 27 formed by the cross-piece 26 and flanges 28, which channels serve as drainage channels in circumstances where ingress of water might occur despite the use of seals associated with the inner and outer members 20, 22.

The mounting element 16 in the illustrated embodiment is in the form of a generally semi-circular ring 30 (a D-shaped ring) which is of round section in cross section and is secured to the ridge structure 12 by plate 32. Each bar 10 is linked in pivotal fashion to the D-ring 30 for generally vertical movement by the connectors 14 (one of which is illustrated in detail in FIGS. 2 and 3) to allow for pitch variation during installation. Each connector 14 may be produced as a plastics moulding from a suitably robust material for the purpose and comprises a first rearward section 40 which is insertable into the two-part bar 10 in such a way that the central portion 24 of the bar enters a central channel 42 of the section 40, the section 40 being apertured so that the connector can be fastened securely, e.g. by nuts and bolts 44a, b, to the central portion 24 in such a way that the connector 14 then forms a continuation of the bar 10. This arrangement allows the bars 10 to be square cut, thereby simplifying fabrication.

The connector further includes an intermediate section 46 and a forward section 48 which is angularly related to the rearward section 40 and terminates in a downwardly directed recess or hook-like formation 50 for engagement, in pivotal fashion, with the D-ring 30 in the manner illustrated in FIG. 1. To ensure that the formation 50 is securely anchored to the D-ring, its open end may be bridged by a screw or other fastener 52 to eliminate any risk of the formation becoming accidentally disengaged from the D-ring 30. If desired, the arrangement may be such that the fastener 52, when tightened, causes the sides of the formation 50 to deform so as to grip the D-ring in a desired orientation relative to the pivotal axis formed by the connection between the formation 50 and the D-ring. It will be noted that the formation 50 and the D-ring are provided with co-operating bearing surfaces which permit pivoting of the connector in a generally vertical plane while allowing the position of the connector to be adjusted angularly about the ridge beam or wall plate end. In the illustrated embodiment, the bearing surfaces are of generally cylindrical configuration, at least in part, but it will be understood that they need not both be. More specifically, the recess or hook has a curved bearing surface to allow pivoting in a vertical plane about an axis defined by the portion of the D-ring with which it co-operates, the ring being of circular shape in cross section.

The intermediate section 42 is provided with location means comprising spaced flanges 56, 58 projecting laterally of each side face of the connector and also upwardly relative to the top of the connector. When the connector section 40 is fully inserted into the bar 10, the end of the bar abuts against the flange 56. The flanges 56, 58 define channels on each side of the connector for the location of one or more strips 60 of sealing material, e.g. a resilient foam material so that the strips can seat on the panels 18 and at least substantially bridge the gap between the upper faces of the panels 18 and the underside of an overlying, external cap 62 (shown in broken outline in FIG. 2) associated with the ridge structure 12. It will be seen that the channels formed by spaced flanges 56, 58 locate and retain the strip material 60 which may be square cut as illustrated or, alternatively, may be shaped so as to extend across the connectors.

The lower edge of the strip material 60 is intended to make sealing contact with the panels. If desired, the seal may be enhanced by the application of a mastic or other sealing material which can be applied as a bead along the junction between the strips 60 and the roof panels. The upper edge of the strip material 60 may also make sealing contact with the underside of the cap 62 although this is not essential as a small gap may be tolerated at this point because the main source of rainwater ingress will tend to be by way of water driven up the panels faces by the wind and this will be intercepted at the junction between the strips and the panels.

To avoid having to specially shape the strip material 60 (e.g. the end faces thereof when the strip material comprises a number of pieces as illustrated in FIG. 1) and thereby simplify fabrication, the flanges 56 may be overmoulded with a flexible gasket 66, the upper edge of which is designed to contact against the underside of the cap 62 and deform downwardly when the cap is located in place to provide sealing at that location. In this way, the relatively small gaps above the connectors 14 are effectively sealed by the gaskets 66. The downward deflection of the gaskets 66 may be in the forward direction, i.e. towards the edge 63 of the cap 62.

It will be noted that the strips 60 are located at the forward opening of the gap between the panels and the cap 62 thereby intercepting water driven up the panels faces by the wind.

As well as serving to connect the bars 10 in a pivotal fashion to the ridge structure 12 and also locate the sealing strip material 60, the connectors 14 additionally provide a drainage facility if and when needed. To this end, each connector is provided on each side with a lateral wing-shaped extension 70 on which the roofing panel edges seat in the proximity of the ridge end. The extensions form channels 72 which, when the connector is fitted to a supporting bar 10 merge, and desirably overlap to some extent, with the channels 27 associated with the cross-piece 26 of the inner member 20. The extensions 70 are formed with overmoulded gaskets 72 for sealing contact with the underside of the panels 18. Any water that might penetrate through the gap between the roofing panels 18 and the connectors 14 is collected by the channels 72 and, by gravity, is directed into the channels 27 and along the length of the bars to drainage points at the lower ends of the bars.

The flanges 56, 58 and/or the extensions 70 may be integrally formed with the connectors 14. Alternatively, these components may be formed separately from the connector as part of a component or components adapted to be fitted to the connector.

A connector in accordance with the present invention may be substantially as described above in relation to FIGS. 1 to 3. However, to allow for the correction of mismatches in pitch between successive sections of the roof, each connector 114 is of two-part construction comprising a first part 140 in the form of a plate adapted to be secured to the panel-supporting bar 110 and a second part 148 terminating in hook-shaped formation 150 which is designed to co-operate with the D-ring 30 to allow vertical pivoting of the supporting bar 110 about the D-ring as well as sliding of the connector 114 and associated bar 110 along the D-ring to a desired position. As in the case of the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 3, the connection with the mounting element or D-ring affords a first location of roof pitch adjustment or variation during installation. The two parts 140 and 148 are pivotally connected in overlapping relation by a clamping arrangement 200 comprising bolt 202, washer 204 and a nut (not shown) in such a way that the two parts can be adjusted angularly relative to one another about an axis X which, in use, is generally horizontal and is generally perpendicular to the axis of elongation of the supporting bar 110. In this way, a second location of roof pitch adjustment or variation during installation is provided for, the second location being outboard than the first location (relative to the ridge beam end). It will be seen that the second part 148 is pivotal in a generally vertical plane about the D-ring and hence about an axis which is generally parallel with the axis X about which the connector parts 140 and 148 are angularly adjustable.

The arrangement may be such that the two parts 140 and 148 are infinitely adjustable relative to one another and the clamping arrangement 200 may be the sole means for fixing the two parts 140 and 148 in a desired position of adjustment. Alternatively or additionally, off-axis means may be provided for permanently securing the two parts 140 and 148 in a desired angular setting. Such means comprises an aperture 206 in one of the parts so that, once the desired angular setting has been determined (and temporarily fixed with the aid of the clamping arrangement 200 where employed), a second aperture can be drilled in the other part and in alignment with the aperture 206 to allow a bolt or such like to inserted through the aligned apertures and used to fix the parts 140 and 148 in the required position of angular adjustment.

Often, the pitch of the bars 110 will not require adjustment from a standard pitch and to cater for this, the two parts 140 and 148 may be provided with apertures (one of which may be the aperture 206) which, when in alignment and connected by a bolt or the like, correspond to a standard pitch setting of the two parts 140 and 148. Thus, where during assembly of the conservatory, it is found that the hipped roof does not depart from the standard pitch used for other sections of the roof other than the hipped section, the connector parts 140 and 148 may simply be secured together using the “standard pitch” apertures. In other circumstances, where some adjustment of the pitch of the bars 110 is required after assembly to the D-ring to remove mismatch, it will be understood that the installer will adjust the parts 140 and 148 of the connectors requiring this until the appropriate pitch is secured. The parts 140 and 148 can then be permanently secured together at this setting.

In other respects, the connector of FIG. 4 may be generally the same as that described with reference to FIGS. 1 to 3. For instance, it may be provided with appropriately positioned locating means for the sealing strip material 60, e.g. flanges provided on the first part 140, and with suitably designed and arranged drainage channels and overmoulded gaskets.

Although the invention is described above in relation to a conservatory having a ridge which roof sections sloping from each side thereof and a hipped section at one end (or possibly both ends), it will be appreciated that the invention may also be applied to conservatories or like buildings where the ridge is in the form of a wall plate structure from which one sloping roof section extends, with a hipped roof section extending from one end (or possibly both ends) of the wall plate structure. In the case where a wall plate structure is employed, the mounting element may be in the form of a half D-ring.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, a conservatory typically comprises load-bearing walls 1100 carrying a cill 1102 above which a roof structure 104 is supported with glazed window frames 1105 located between the cill 1102 and an eaves beam 1106 (also commonly referred to as the ring beam) of the roof structure. The roof structure comprises a ridge 1108 and glazing bars 1110 extending between the ridge 108 and sections of the eaves beam which extend around the sides of the conservatory. The glazing bars 1110 serve to support roofing panels, e.g. of glass. polycarbonate or polyvinylchloride, extending from the ridge 1108 and overhanging the eaves beam sections 1106. The eaves beam 1106 and the cill 1102 typically each comprise extruded profiles of for example aluminium or an aluminium alloy.

The glazed window frames 1105 are typically fabricated from extruded plastics upper, lower and side frame members all having the same cross section. In FIGS. 7 and 8, part of an upper frame member 1112 is shown and it will be seen to include outwardly projecting L-shaped formations 1114 which, in the case of the side frame members, are used in interconnecting adjacent window frames together in known fashion. Those formations are present on the upper frame member 1112 but are normally redundant simply because it is expedient to use the same extrusion section for all frame members of the windows.

The eaves beam 1106 is mounted above the frame member 1112 but because it has a box section configuration (defined by walls 1116A-D), connecting it to the upper frame members of the window frames is not straightforward since the closed configuration of the section does not lend itself to simple insertion of fastening devices such as a screw through the base 1116D of the beam and into the underlying frame member 1112. Connection of the eaves beams 1106 to the underlying window frames 1105 is achieved by means of elongate intermediate connectors 1120 in the form of an extrusion (which may be plastics or metal, e.g. aluminum).

The connectors comprise an elongate plate 1122 with formations 1124 depending from its underside for co-operation with the formations 1114 on the upper frame member 1112 so that the intermediate connector 1120 can be attached to the upper frame members 1112, e.g. by way of a snap-fit engagement, by pressing the connector downwardly in direction D so that the formations 1122 engage with the formations 1114, e.g. with an inner and outer formation 1114 as seen in FIG. 5. As can be seen from FIG. 7, the formations 1124 may be L-shaped with their free portions 1124A extending away from one another for location beneath the inwardly directed free portions 1114A of the formations 1114. In this manner, once the formations 1114 and 1124 have been brought into engagement, they resist upward displacement of the connector 1120 away from the frame member 1112.

Typically each connector 1120 will be substantially co-extensive with the associated eaves beam section and may span one or more window frames 1105. Although it is convenient to be able to attach the connectors 1120 to the frame members 1112, e.g. by snap or press fit engagement, without the need for separate fastening devices such as screws, it will be appreciated that this possibility is encompassed within some aspects of the present invention since the connectors, not having a closed cross section, can be readily secured to the upper frame members 1112.

The upper part of the eaves beam 1106 is adapted to locate fittings by means of which the glazing bars 1110 can be coupled to the eaves beam, e.g. with a pivotal action to allow the pitch of the roof structure to be adjusted during fabrication of the conservatory. The part-circulate socket 1111 may be employed for the tiltable location of the glazing bars. The lower part of the eaves beam seats on the intermediate connector and is coupled by the latter to the upper window frame members in such a way that the downwardly and outwardly directed load exerted on the eaves beam by the roof structure 1104 (generally acting in the direction of arrow X in FIG. 8 cannot decouple the components 1106 and 1120 (and hence 1106 and 1112) but may allow them to be registered with each other in a simple fashion and without the aid of separate fastening devices such as screws, although the possibility of using such fastening devices for additional security is not excluded.

In this embodiment, the coupling is obtained by the provision of upwardly extending projections 1126 on the upper face of the connectors 1120 and downwardly extending projections 1128 on the underside of the eaves beam 1106. The projections 1126 and 1128 are all L-shaped so that they form channels such that the free portions of the projections on one component can be inserted into the channel formed by the projections of the other component. It will be noted that the free portions 1126A of the connector 1120 are directed inwardly whilst the free portions 1128A of the eaves beam are directed outwardly, the terms “inwardly” and “outwardly” being with reference to the interior of the conservatory. In this way, the eaves beam 1106 can be fitted to the connector 1120 by slightly offsetting the two components in the direction Y and then displacing them laterally relative to each other until the free portions 1128A are received within the channels formed by projections 126 and the free portions 1126A are received within the channels formed by projections 1128.

Although each component 1106, 1120 is provided with two sets of such projections in the illustrated embodiment, it will be understood that the same result may be achieved using one or more than two such projections on each component. In practice, it is preferred to use more than one such projection on each component to avoid the possibility of the eaves beam tilting relative to the connector 1120. Typically two such sets 1126, 1128 are provided respectively located adjacent the outer and inner edges of the eaves beam, as illustrated.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, in this case the eaves beam is coupled to the top of a brickwork or like supporting wall (not shown) of a building using an intermediate connector 1120M similar to that of FIGS. 7 and 8 except that the connector 1120M in this case may be affixed to the top of the wall by means of fastening devices such as screws basing through the plate 1122 and into the wall. In all other respects, the eaves beam and the connector are the same as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8 and are coupled together in the same manner by means of the interfitting formations 1126 and 1128.

Referring now to the embodiment of FIG. 11 of the present application, the an elongate eaves beam 1106, which is generally similar to that described with reference to FIGS. 5 to 8, co-operates with an elongate intermediate connector 1120 which is attachable, e.g. as a snap or push fit, to the upper frame members (not shown but designated 1112 in FIGS. 7 and 8) of the side wall of the conservatory. For this purpose, the underside of the connector 1120 is provided with a pair of depending formations 1122 as described in relation to FIGS. 7 and 8.

Thus far described the intermediate connector 1120 is generally the same as that disclosed above and is likewise designed to prevent decoupling of the eaves beam 106 and connector 120 when the eaves beam in use is subject to outwardly directed forces exerted by the weight of the roof structure. In this case however, instead of arranging the components in such a way that they are registered and engaged with each other by relative movement in a direction lateral to the axis of elongation of the eaves beam, the components are arranged to be registered with each other in end to end relation and then moved, with a sliding action, to render the captive with each other with respect to the outwardly directed forces exerted by the weight of the roof structure on the eaves beam.

As shown in FIG. 11, the two components 1106 and 1120 are provided with suitable interfitting formations which enable them to be rendered captive by endwise registration and the sliding action referred to above. More specifically, adjacent one side the connector 1120 is provided with a pair of upstands 1210 forming a channel in which portion 1212 depending from the one side of the eaves beam 1120 is slidably inserted. The portion 1212 is generally L-shaped or T-shaped and includes a projection 1214 to ensure that the portion cannot be withdrawn from the channel through its upwardly facing open mouth. Adjacent the opposite side of the connector 1120, there is an L-shaped upstand 1216 which inserts into a groove 1218 defined by portion 1220 to permit the above-mentioned endwise registration and sliding action while preventing decoupling of the connector 1120 and eaves beam 1106 by the outwardly directed forces exerted by the roof structure.

The arrangement is such that the eaves beam and the intermediate connector are rendered captive to one another without the need for separate means such as screws. It will be appreciated that the particular arrangement shown in FIG. 11 is purely by way of example and that many variations are possible. Also, while the connector 1120 illustrated is designed for use with a suitably profiled upper frame member, it will be understood that it may be readily modified for use the top of a side wall comprising bricks, blocks or the like—e.g. as described with reference to FIGS. 9 and 10.