Title:
Pipe tool
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A holding apparatus and method for installing a first threaded end of a pipe fitting onto a pipe, where the first threaded end has a first thread axis, and the pipe fitting has a second threaded end with a second thread axis oriented at an angle of less than 180 degrees with respect to the first thread axis. A holder engages the pipe fitting such that the first threaded end extends from an open end of the holder, and a wrench head is fixed to the holder opposite the open end and is rotated by a wrench about a head axis. The wrench head and holder are configured such that when the pipe fitting is engaged in the holder, the head axis is aligned with the first thread axis and rotating the wrench head about the head axis rotates the pipe fitting about the first thread axis.



Inventors:
Guigon, Peter (Duck Lake, CA)
Application Number:
11/225509
Publication Date:
04/20/2006
Filing Date:
09/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D57/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080315581Non-Rotating Coupling DeviceDecember, 2008White
20080129043CONDUIT TO COMPONENT FITTING HAVING A LEAK DETECTION MECHANISMJune, 2008Holt et al.
20060284413Pipe repair couplingDecember, 2006Barrera
20090289452PULL-UP BY TORQUE FITTINGNovember, 2009Bennett et al.
20070090646COUPLING HAVING ANGULARLY ORIENTED CAVITYApril, 2007Dole et al.
20050258649Pipe sleeve connection in a water heater steel storage tankNovember, 2005Braathen
20090021007BALL COUPLERJanuary, 2009Le Bars et al.
20030015870Coupling for pipe, and related methodsJanuary, 2003Delmer
20080277923Connector Device for Media ConduitsNovember, 2008Brandt et al.
20060208483Hose connection sleeveSeptember, 2006Guo
20080012293Assembly for conducting and tempering fluids and method for producing said assemblyJanuary, 2008Freiberger et al.



Primary Examiner:
SHAKERI, HADI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STITES & HARBISON, PLLC (LOUISVILLE, KY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A holding apparatus for installing a first threaded end of a pipe fitting onto a pipe network, where the first threaded end has a first thread axis, and the pipe fitting has at least a second threaded end with a second thread axis oriented at an angle of less than 180 degrees with respect to the first thread axis, the apparatus comprising: a holder adapted to engage the pipe fitting such that the first threaded end extends from an open end of the holder; a wrench head fixed to the holder substantially opposite the open end thereof and configured to be engaged and rotated by a wrench about a head axis; wherein the wrench head and holder are configured such that when the pipe fitting is engaged in the holder, the head axis is substantially aligned with the first thread axis such that rotating the wrench head about the head axis causes the pipe fitting to rotate about the first thread axis.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the holder defines a cavity configured to engage the pipe fitting with the first threaded end extending from an open end of the cavity and side portions of the pipe fitting adjacent to sides of the cavity.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the cavity is configured to loosely engage the side portions of the pipe fitting.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein cavity is configured to substantially conform to an outer shape of the pipe fitting.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a retainer operative to retain the pipe fitting in the holder.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the retainer comprises a screw threaded through an aperture defined by the holder.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the screw can be threaded into the aperture to a closed position wherein an inner end thereof is adjacent to a pipe fitting located in the holder, and can be threaded out of the aperture wherein an inner end thereof is removed from a pipe fitting located in the holder sufficiently for the pipe fitting to be disengaged from the holder.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the pipe fitting is one of an elbow with two female threaded ends, an elbow with one female and one male threaded end, and a T-junction.

9. A method for installing a first threaded end of a pipe fitting onto a pipe network, where the first threaded end has a first thread axis, and the pipe fitting has at least a second threaded end with a second thread axis oriented at an angle of less than 180 degrees with respect to the first thread axis, the method comprising: engaging a holder on the pipe fitting such that the first threaded end extends from an open end of the holder, wherein a wrench head is fixed to the holder substantially opposite the open end thereof, the wrench head having a head axis substantially aligned with the first thread axis; engaging a wrench on the wrench head and rotating the wrench head, holder, and pipe fitting about the aligned head axis and first thread axis.

10. The method of claim 9 comprising engaging a retainer operative to retain the pipe fitting in the holder subsequent to engaging the holder on the pipe fitting.

11. The method of claim 9 wherein the pipe fitting is one of an elbow with two female threaded ends, an elbow with one female and one male threaded end, and a T-junction.

Description:

This invention is in the field of plumbing installation tools, and in particular in the area of tools for installing plumbing elbow joints and like fittings.

BACKGROUND

It is common in the field of plumbing, hydraulic line, and natural gas pipe fitting to use pipe elbows when assembling plumbing components. The use of elbows allows for rigid pipe runs to make turns to pass around comers or obstacles. In addition, “double” elbows or T-junctions are used where the flow is to be distributed to two or more pipes.

Typically the installation of a pipe elbow involves the threading by hand of the elbow onto the pipe to which it is to be installed, and then tightening the elbow with a pipe wrench. As pipe fittings are often installed in cramped working conditions, it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to first engage the elbow with a conventional pipe wrench, and then have adequate working room to be able to generate the torque necessary to properly tighten the fitting. If the fitting is not properly tightened it can lead to leakage at the joint between the elbow and the pipe.

Because of the shape of pipe fittings like elbows, the orientations of the fitting where a pipe wrench can effectively engage the fitting are limited. Pipe elbows include elbows with a female threaded fitting at each end, and “street” elbows which have a female threaded fitting at one end and a male threaded fitting at the other end. The street elbow at the male end has a relatively short and narrow shank with external threads, and the shank is difficult to grasp with a conventional pipe wrench. Typically then it is necessary to engage the jaws of the pipe wrench across the opening at the female end the female, or directly opposite the opening, such that the wrench has only two suitable locations, each located at 180° with respect to the other.

Similarly on elbows with a female threaded fitting at each end, the portion of the elbow that can be grasped with the wrench is quite short, such that the wrench is often engaged across the opposite end.

Thus for example when installing a 90° elbow in a limited workspace an installer is often not able to swing the wrench through 180°, and it is very difficult to properly tighten the elbow to the desired degree. Furthermore, applying force with a pipe wrench to the open end of a pipe fitting risks compressing and deforming that end so that it cannot be connected to the next segment of pipe. Engaging the wrench on the shank just below the end that is being installed on the pipe provides a wider range of gripping locations however is problematic as well.

The same problems that impair one's ability to install an elbow fitting also impedes efforts to remove it. This is exacerbated by the fact that after a period of use, fittings will often become corroded and difficult to remove. Applying adequate torque to install and remove elbow type fittings is made difficult by the shape and lack of an effective location to engage a wrench.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a tool that overcomes limitations in prior art methods and tools used in installing or removing plumbing fittings such as elbows. The invention is a simple, reusable device, adapted for use with conventional tools such as ratchet and socket wrenches, hand wrenches or impact socket wrenches.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a holding apparatus for installing a first threaded end of a pipe fitting onto a pipe network, where the first threaded end has a first thread axis, and the pipe fitting has at least a second threaded end with a second thread axis oriented at an angle of less than 180 degrees with respect to the first thread axis. The apparatus comprises a holder adapted to engage the pipe fitting such that the first threaded end extends from an open end of the holder, and a wrench head fixed to the holder substantially opposite the open end thereof and configured to be engaged and rotated by a wrench about a head axis. The wrench head and holder are configured such that when the pipe fitting is engaged in the holder, the head axis is substantially aligned with the first thread axis such that rotating the wrench head about the head axis causes the pipe fitting to rotate about the first thread axis.

In a second embodiment, the invention provides a method for installing a first threaded end of a pipe fitting onto a pipe network, where the first threaded end has a first thread axis, and the pipe fitting has at least a second threaded end with a second thread axis oriented at an angle of less than 180 degrees with respect to the first thread axis. The method comprises engaging a holder on the pipe fitting such that the first threaded end extends from an open end of the holder, wherein a wrench head is fixed to the holder substantially opposite the open end thereof, the wrench head having a head axis substantially aligned with the first thread axis, and engaging a wrench on the wrench head and rotating the wrench head, holder, and pipe fitting about the aligned head axis and first thread axis.

By using a conventional hexagonal shape for the wrench head, the head is analogous to the head of a bolt. As such, tools such as a socket and ratchet combination, which are well adapted for working in tight spaces, can be used to tighten the plumbing fitting using the invention. Alternatively, the invention may provide a recess adapted to fit the square end of a ratchet head such that the fitting can be tightened with a ratchet alone. Still further the wrench head could be adapted to be engaged by a pipe wrench.

Where additional torque is required to either install or remove the fitting, the invention provides the user with the option of using an air driven impact wrench and socket to generate the necessary force. Thus the invention provides a simple and easy to use device that overcomes problems associated with the installation or removal of plumbing fittings such as elbows and junctions

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the invention is claimed in the concluding portions hereof, preferred embodiments are provided in the accompanying detailed description which may be best understood in conjunction with the accompanying diagrams where like parts in each of the several diagrams are labeled with like numbers, and where:

FIG. 1 is a top view of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of the invention where the shape of the holder is rounded at the back to better cradle the elbow;

FIG. 4 is an end view of the embodiment of FIG. 3 and showing how the bottom of the holder is rounded to better cradle the elbow. The view is taken from the end opposite of the location of the set screw;

FIG. 5 is a side view of an alternate embodiment configured for use with a T-junction.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a holding apparatus 1 of the invention for use in holding certain pipe fittings commonly used in plumbing, hydraulic line and gas fittings and the like, during installation onto a pipe 18 or like fitting of the pipe network being worked on. The pipe fittings of concern are those such as elbows and T-junctions where a first threaded end 12 is to be installed on the pipe 18 and has a first thread axis A1, and a second threaded end has a second thread axis A2 oriented at an angle of less than 180° with respect to the first thread axis, typically at 90° or 45°.

The apparatus 1 comprises a holder 2 adapted to engage a pipe fitting 4, illustrated as a 90° elbow with two female ends, such that the first threaded end 12 extends from the open end of the holder 2. The holder 2 defines an appropriately sized cavity adapted to receive the pipe fitting 4. The pipe fitting 4 is placed into the holder through the open top of the holder. The pipe fitting 4 is oriented in the holder such that the first end 12 of the fitting, i.e. the end that is to be threaded onto the end of the pipe 18, is situated at the end of the holder 2 opposite a wrench head 10 located on the bottom of the holder 2. It is contemplated that the holder 2 could be configured to engage a 45° elbow, or other variation, in a manner similar to that illustrated.

The illustrated holder 2 further comprises a retainer comprising a set screw 8 threaded into a nut 6 welded to the holder 2 and through a wall of the holder 2. Once the pipe fitting is in the holder, the set screw 8 may be screwed in such that the inner end thereof is close to or against the wall of the pipe fitting 4, thus keeping the pipe fitting 4 in place in the holder 2. The placement of the set screw 8 over the body of the pipe fitting 4 also prevents the pipe fitting 4 from falling out of the holder 2, even should the set screw 8 become loose while the holder is in use.

The set screw 8 and nut 6 are not required to rotate the fitting, but in confined areas or awkward positions are convenient to maintain the fitting 4 in the holder 2. The cavity of the holder 2 can be configured to only loosely engage the side portions of the pipe fitting 4, so long as once the holder is rotated, the fitting 4 will also rotate. It is contemplated that it could be possible to utilize the same holder 2 for different sizes of fittings 4. For example a single holder might satisfactorily function to install both ¾ inch and ½ inch elbows.

A wrench head 10 is fixed to the holder 2 opposite the open end thereof and is configured to be engaged and rotated by a wrench about a head axis HA that is aligned with the first thread axis A1 such that rotating the wrench head 10 about the head axis HA causes the pipe fitting 4 to rotate about the first thread axis A1.

Thus once the fitting 4 is secured in the holder 2, the user then grasps the holder 2 and initially threads the fitting onto the end of a pipe 18 by hand. After the fitting is initially threaded, the user then applies a wrench, ratchet and socket or an air wrench and socket to the wrench head 10 located on the bottom of the holder 2. Conveniently, the wrench head 10 could be a hexagonal shape of a size to fit a standard wrench or socket set. The head can be provided in either metric or standard sizes, depending on where the invention was to be marketed. Once the wrench is in place, the user then tightens the fitting 4 by rotating the holder 2.

Using a hexagonal head provides for easier placement and turning of a wrench to tighten the fitting onto the pipe, or to remove same. In addition, the wrench head provides for more secure engagement of the holder when using a wrench or socket than can be achieved by a conventional pipe wrench on a bare fitting. Thus, the chance of slippage of the wrench, a common occurrence with a pipe wrench on a bare fitting in an awkward position, is reduced or eliminated when using the apparatus 1 to install a fitting. The head 10 could also comprise a recess on the lower surface of the holder 2 adapted to fit the square end of a ratchet head. Like the wrench head 10, the recess would be centered substantially in line with the first thread axis A1 of the pipe fitting 4. Using a recess adapted to a ratchet head provides the advantage that a user does not need to find an appropriate size socket in order to tighten the fitting, but can simply use the ratchet without a socket.

By aligning the wrench head 10 substantially with the first thread axis A1, the holder 2 will rotate smoothly as the pipe fitting 4 is installed. Slight misalignment of the axes HA and A1 will still allow the apparatus 1 to function satisfactorily.

The holder 2 may be manufactured in a number of ways, and the precise manner of construction is not limiting of the invention. For example it may be possible to fashion the holder 2, the nut 6 and opening for the set screw 8 as well as the wrench head 10 as a single piece casting. Alternatively, the holder 2 could also be constructed of a series of appropriately size pieces of sheet metal to form the sides and bottom, and the nut 6 and wrench head 10 affixed onto the box portion of the holder 2 afterwards.

In an alternative embodiment 101, illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, the bottom 120 of the holder 102 comprises a rounded shape, substantially the same as the shape of the pipe fitting 104, here illustrated as street elbow. By matching the shape of the holder 102 to the fitting 104, the fitting is held more securely in the holder, and torque will be more effectively transferred to the fitting during installation or removal. As shown the holder 102 is configured to substantially conform to the outer shape of the illustrated street elbow.

Having a shaped holder provides an advantage when installing a street elbow style of fitting. Street elbows are well known in the art of plumbing and comprise a female internal thread at one end and a male external thread at the opposite end. The female end typically comprises a flange that is of a greater diameter than the male end. Consequently, when attaching the male end to a pipe, it is possible for the elbow to wobble back and forth in the holder. Thus, by shaping the holder to approximate the shape of the fitting, the fitting will be retained more snugly in the holder, with the effect that side to side movement of the male end of the fitting will be reduced, which in turn makes installation of the fitting easier. The holder is still operative, even without a tight fit between the holder and the fitting, much the same as a crescent wrench is still functional even where it has not been precisely adjusted to the size of the bolt or nut to which it is applied. Thus, while a snug fit between the holder and the fitting is most desirable it is not absolutely necessary for the invention to function.

As shown in FIG. 5, a holder 202 can also be provided that is adapted to use with a T-junction style fitting 204. In the case of a holder for use with T-junctions, the holder 202 is constructed such that it fits the length and width of the pipe fitting 204. The wrench head 210 is placed in the middle of the holder 202, such that the head axis HA is in substantial alignment with the first thread axis A1 of the fitting end to be attached to the pipe.

The size of the holder can also be varied in order to provide a holder capable of functioning with various size plumbing fittings. As pipe fittings come in a number of different diameters to accommodate different sizes of pipes, it is anticipated that a user would desire a set of holders of varying sizes in order to have a holder whose size closely matched that of the pipe fitting with which it was to be used. Conveniently, a set of holders will allow a user to select for a more secure fit of a pipe fitting into a holder, lessening the chance of movement of the pipe fitting within the holder during installation of the fitting onto a pipe end, thus permitting easier installation.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous changes and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all such suitable changes or modifications in structure or operation which may be resorted to are intended to fall within the scope of the claimed invention.