Title:
Multi-positional flat hook bracket
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multi-positional flat hook bracket for cargo securement is provided. The bracket allows for the securement of tie-down flat hooks in such a way as to conform to the recent regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Namely, the tie-down will stay inboard of the trailer's rub rails, and any loss in tension to the tie-downs will not result in the flat hook coming loose.



Inventors:
Watson, Michael H. (Phil Campbell, AL, US)
Mcguire, Randy W. (Russellville, AL, US)
Application Number:
11/248519
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/12/2005
Assignee:
Fontaine Trailer Company (Haleyville, AL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GORDON, STEPHEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LANIER FORD SHAVER & PAYNE P.C. (HUNTSVILLE, AL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A bracket for securing a tie-down flat hook to a trailer, said bracket comprising: a. a square-shaped frame; b. an attachment means for securing said bracket to said trailer; and c. a receiving rod transversely connecting the sides of said frame for attaching said flat hook to said bracket.

2. The bracket of claim 1 wherein said attachment means comprises a T-shaped channel disposed at the top of said square shaped frame, so dimensioned to slideably couple to a T-shaped underneath side rail of said trailer.

3. The bracket of claim 1 wherein said square-shaped frame is made of steel having a thickness between one-fourth of an inch to three-eighths of an inch.

4. The bracket of claim 1 wherein said receiving rod is substantially cylindrical and has a diameter between three-fourths and three-eighths of an inch.

5. A bracket for securing a tie-down flat hook to a trailer, said bracket comprising: a. a horizontal bottom plate; b. two vertical side walls substantially parallel to one another connected at opposing sides of said bottom plate; c. a top plate substantially parallel to said bottom plate and substantially perpendicular to said side walls connected at opposite end of said bottom plate; and d. a receiving rod disposed in between said top and bottom plate, substantially parallel to said top and bottom plates, and transversely connecting said side walls; wherein said bracket can be moveably attached to said trailer at said top plate, and wherein said tie-down flat hook can be attached to said rod.

6. The bracket of claim 5 wherein a T-shaped channel so dimensioned to slideably couple to a T-shape underneath side rail is disposed at the intersection of said top plate and said side walls.

7. The bracket of claim 5 wherein said receiving rod is substantially cylindrical and has a diameter between three-fourths and three-eighths of an inch.

8. A cargo securement system comprising: a. a winch housing a cargo tie-down having a flat hook attached at its remote end; b. a square-shaped bracket; and c. a receiving rod transversely connecting the sides of said bracket for attaching said flat hook to said bracket; wherein said winch and said bracket are slideably coupled to T-shaped underneath side rails on opposite sides of a trailer; wherein said cargo tie-down is stretched over cargo resting on said trailer; and wherein said flat hook is attached to said receiving rod.

9. The bracket of claim 8 wherein a T-shaped channel so dimensioned to slideably couple to said T-shaped underneath side rail is disposed at its top.

10. The bracket of claim 8 wherein said square-shaped bracket is made of steel with a thickness between one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch.

11. The bracket of claim 8 wherein said receiving rod is substantially cylindrical and has a diameter between three-fourths and three-eighths of an inch.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to the field of commercial trucking. In particular, the present invention relates to cargo securement. More particularly, the present invention relates to a device for securing tie-down flat hooks to flatbed trailers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgated new regulations for cargo securement. According to these regulations, “all tie-downs and other components of a cargo securement system used to secure loads on a trailer equipped with rub rails, must be located inboard of the rub rails whenever practicable.” 49 CFR § 393.104(f)(4). Furthermore, such tie-downs “must be attached and secured in a manner that prevents it from becoming loose, unfastening, opening or releasing while the vehicle is in transit.” 49 CFR § 393.104(f)(3).

A common method of securing cargo to flatbed trailers involves placing winches which house cargo tie-downs, or straps, on one end of the trailer. Next, these tie-downs are placed over the cargo and secured to the side of the trailer opposite the winch by connecting the tie-down flat hook to the trailer. The winch is then tightened to secure the cargo to the trailer.

Many of the current means for connecting the tie-down flat hooks to the trailer do not conform to the new FMCSA regulations. For example, one method of attaching the tie-down to the trailer is to hook the tie-down flat hook to the bottom of the rub rail which is located on the side of the trailer. This method fails to conform to the applicable cargo securement regulations because the cargo securement system is not located inboard of the rub rail. If the vehicle overturns, the flat hook could come loose or the tie-down could sever due to abrasion forces. Furthermore, if the tie-down tension is lost, the flat hook would come loose.

Another method for connecting the tie-down flat hooks to the trailer involves threading the tie-down through the rub rail, looping it back outside of the rub rail, and connecting the flat hook at the top of the rub rail. While this method would prevent the tie-down from becoming loose upon a loss of tension in the tie-down, the flat hook is located outside of the rub rail in violation of the applicable regulations.

Yet another method for connecting the tie-down flat hooks to the trailer involves threading the tie-down through the rub rail and attaching it to the T-shaped underneath of the side rail of the trailer. This method keeps the tie-downs inboard of the rub rails, however, if the tie-downs lose tension, the winch flat hook would come loose.

Consequently, it is desirable to have a cargo securement system that conforms to the FMCSA regulations and allows for the securement of tie downs where no parts of the system are outside of the rub rail, and where, should the tie down lose tension, the flat hook would not come loose.

Other devices which have addressed these concerns are expensive, difficult to manufacture, and may contain moving parts which could lead to failure of the device. For example, in addition to being extremely expensive and difficult to manufacture, the Glidelock bracket, manufactured by Ancra International, requires the use of a latch to prevent the tie-down flat hook from coming loose. Furthermore, the PortaAnchor, manufactured by Hugg Manufacturing, Inc., is expensive and appears difficult to manufacture. The present disclosed invention does not have any of these disadvantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention recognizes and addresses various of the foregoing limitations and drawbacks of other methods and devices concerning cargo securement. Therefore, the present invention is directed to an multi-positional flat hook bracket.

It is, therefore, a principle object of the subject invention to provide a means of attaching cargo tie-downs to flatbed traitors. More particularly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a bracket which allows for the attachment of tie-down flat hooks. In such context, it is still a more particular object of the present invention to provide such bracket which allows the cargo securement to conform to the applicable regulations.

Still further, it is a principle object of this invention to provide a bracket that is simple to manufacture. It is a further object of the present invention to provide bracket that has no moving parts. In such context, it is an object of the present invention to provide inexpensive bracket that slideably couples to the trailer's T-shaped underneath of the side rail.

Winches housing the tie-downs move along the underneath side rail depending on the needs of the cargo. Because the cargo and the winches are capable of being put in various locations along the trailer, the bracket needs to be capable of mirroring the winch and receiving the tie-down flat hook anywhere along the side of the trailer.

Additional objects and advantages of the invention are set forth in, or will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from, the detailed description as follows. Also, it should be further appreciated that modifications and variations to the specifically illustrated and discussed features and materials hereof may be practiced in various embodiments and uses of this invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, by virtue of present reference thereto. Such variations may include, but are not limited to, substitutions of the equivalent means, features, and materials for those shown or discussed, and the functional or positional reversal of various parts, features, method steps, or the like.

Still further, it is to be understood that different embodiments, as well as different presently preferred embodiments, of this invention may include various combinations or configurations of presently disclosed features, elements, method steps, or their equivalents (including combinations of features or configurations thereof not expressly shown in the figures or stated in the detailed description).

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following descriptions and the appended claims. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate an embodiment of the invention, and, together with the descriptions, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is back plan view of an exemplary flatbed trailer showing a cargo securement system.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket shown together with a tie-down flat hook.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket showing the attachment of a tie-down flat hook.

FIG. 4A is a side plan view of an exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket

FIG. 4B is a front plan view of an exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket.

FIG. 4C is a perspective view of an exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket.

FIG. 5 is a side plan view of an exemplary receiving rod with a flat hook attached at different temporal events.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to a presently preferred embodiment of the invention, examples of which are fully represented in the accompanying drawings. Such examples are provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation thereof. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment may be used on another embodiment to yield still a further embodiment. Still further, variations and selections of materials and/or characteristics may be practiced to satisfy particular desired user criteria. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the present features and their equivalents.

Referring to FIG. 1, a flatbed trailer 101 includes rub rails 102 and T-shaped underneath side rails 103 which both play a role in cargo securement. A winch 104 housing a cargo tie-down 105 is located on one side of the trailer and is slideably attached to the T-shaped underneath side rail 103. The tie-down 105 is stretched over the cargo 106 and is attached by a flat hook 107 to a multi-positional flat hook bracket 108 located on side of the trailer opposite the winch. The exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket is made of steel with a thickness range between 0.25 inch to 0.375 inch. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the bracket can be made of other materials—plastics, metals, composites—which demonstrate and possess the required strength to withstand the forces necessary for cargo securement.

With reference now to FIG. 2, the multi-positional flathook bracket 108 is slideably coupled to the T-shaped underneath side rail 103 by mating the T-shaped form 203 of the underneath side rail 103 with the T-shaped channel 401 (FIG. 4A) at the top of the bracket. This coupling will allow the bracket to move up and down the length of the trailer 204 depending upon the needs of the cargo. The exemplary T-shaped slot at the top of the bracket is dimensioned such that it can receive the underneath side rail.

FIG. 3 displays a close-up of an exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket 108 attached to a trailer underneath side rail 103, as well as the tie-down flat hook 107 in a position for attachment. The arrows 304 show the preferred method of attaching the flat hook 107 to the receiving rod 305. The receiving rod of the exemplary multi-positional flat hook bracket is made of steel with a diameter between three-fourths and three-eighths of an inch. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the receiving rod can be made of other materials—plastics, metals, composites—which demonstrate and possess the required strength to withstand the forces necessary for cargo securement. Further, the receiving rod can have a diameter of such dimensions as would allow for the attachment of the tie-down flat hook. The width of the exemplary bracket is such that it can receive a flat hook.

FIGS. 4A, B, and C display side, front, and three-dimensional displays of the multi-positional flat hook bracket. As shown, the T-shaped slot of the bracket 401 is dimensioned to slide onto the T-shaped form of the underneath side rail. Once attached to the underneath side rail, the bracket is slid along the side rail to a position in the same plane as the winch which houses the cargo tie-down. The tie-down is stretched over the cargo and secured to the multi-positional flat hook bracket by angling the hook in such a way as to be placed on the receiving rod 305 transversely connecting the sides 403 of the bracket 108.

FIG. 5 displays the receiving rod 305, flat hook 107, and cargo tie-down 105 at different times of use, t1, t2, t3, t4, and t5. Time t1 depicts the flat hook 107 at its initial approach to the receiving rod 305. Time t2 depicts the flat hook 107 in relation to the receiving rod 305 as it is engaged into position. An arrow 501 shows an exemplary line of force to make the proper connection with the receiving rod 305. Time t3 depicts the flat hook 107 in relation to the receiving rod 305 when the tie-down 105 is pulled into tension over the cargo. Time t4 depicts the flat hook 107 in relation to the receiving rod 305 when tension is lost in the tie-down 105. Finally, time t5 depicts the flat hook 107 when the tie down 105 comes completely loose from the winch.

Due to the design of the multi-positional flat hook bracket, once the flat hook is engaged with the receiving rod of the multi-positional flat hook bracket, it cannot come loose without manually disengaging it. The properties of the tie-down and tie-down flat hook coupled with the design of the multi-positional flat hook bracket prevents the hook from falling in any direction but in the direction away from the trailer. Only by manually forcing the tie-down hook to assume the position for engagement, signified by time t2, can the hook be disengaged from the receiving rod. This ensures that users of the present invention are in constant compliance with the applicable FMSCA regulations.

Although a preferred embodiment of the invention has been described using specific terms and devices, such description is for illustrative purposes only. The words used are words of description rather than of limitation. It is to be understood that changes and variations may be made by those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the spirit or the scope of the present invention, which is set forth in the following claims. In addition, it should be understood that aspects of various other embodiments may be interchanged both in whole or in part. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred version contained herein.