Title:
Gate panel assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gate panel assembly comprising a pair of poles and a panel having a pair of sleeves formed on opposing ends of the panel. Each pole respectively engages one of the sleeves. An end of at least one of the sleeves is closed to engage the top portion of the pole sleeved therein and to prevent the panel from sliding vertically downward relative to the poles.



Inventors:
Jacobs, John F. (Queensbury, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/031046
Publication Date:
07/27/2006
Filing Date:
01/10/2005
Assignee:
Reliable Racing Supply, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COURSON, TANIA C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISHMAN STEWART PLLC (BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gate panel assembly, comprising: a panel including a pair of sleeves on opposing ends of said panel; and a pair of poles, each pole respectively engaging one of said pair of sleeves; wherein an end of at least one of said pair of sleeves is closed to prevent said panel from sliding vertically downward relative to said poles.

2. The gate panel assembly of claim 1, wherein said panel is attached to at least one of said pair of poles by a panel attachment assembly, said panel attachment assembly comprising: a fastening member; a cord having a fixed end housed in said fastening member forming a loop in said cord; and a mounting surface affixed to said panel and adjacent to one of said pair of sleeves; wherein the loop of said cord is fed through a hole defined in said mounting surface, around one of said poles engaged in one of said sleeves, and over a top of said fastening member.

3. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein said fastening member is a button, a ball or a rod.

4. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein said fastening member is plastic or rubber.

5. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein the loop of said cord rests between a lower surface of said fastening member and said mounting surface.

6. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein said fixed end of said cord is positioned opposite said loop and is crimped by a fastener.

7. The gate panel assembly of claim 6, wherein said fastener is metal.

8. The gate panel assembly of claim 6, wherein said fastening member houses the fixed end of said cord and said fastener in an inner surface thereof.

9. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein the fixed end of said cord is positioned opposite said loop and is formed integrally with said fastening member.

10. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein said cord is formed of an elastic material that stretches around the sleeved pole to create a tension that retains said pole in said sleeve of said panel.

11. The gate panel assembly of claim 2, wherein said panel attachment assembly further comprises a grommet formed in said hole.

12. The gate panel assembly of claim 1, further comprising a strength member, said strength member being affixed to at least said panel and said sleeve having said closed end.

13. A gate panel, comprising: a first pair of sleeves formed on opposing ends of a panel; wherein an end of at least one of said first pair of sleeves is closed.

14. The gate panel of claim 13, further comprising a second pair of opposing sleeves; wherein each of said second pair of opposing sleeves is positioned adjacent to one of said first pair of sleeves; and the diameters of said second pair of opposing sleeves differ from the diameters of said first pair of sleeves.

15. The gate panel of claim 13, wherein said closed end engages a top end of a sleeved pole to prevent said panel from sliding vertically downward relative to said pole.

16. The gate panel of claim 14, wherein each of a pair of poles respectively engages one of said first pair of sleeves or one of said second pair of sleeves.

17. The gate panel of claim 13, wherein said panel is attached to at least one of a pair of poles respectively engaged in said first pair of sleeves by an attachment assembly, said attachment assembly comprising: a fastening member; a cord having a fixed end housed in said fastening member forming a loop in said cord; and a mounting surface affixed to said panel and adjacent to one of said first pair of sleeves; wherein the loop of said cord is fed through a hole defined in said mounting surface, around one of said poles engaged in one of said first pair of sleeves, and over a top of said fastening member.

18. The gate panel of claim 17, wherein said fastening member is a button, a ball or a rod.

19. A method of assembling a gate panel assembly, comprising: inserting each of a pair of spaced poles into one of a pair of sleeves formed on opposing ends of a gate panel; wherein said gate panel is prevented from sliding vertically downward relative to said poles by a closed end formed in at least one of said pair of sleeves.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of attaching at least one of said pair of poles to said gate panel, said step of attaching comprising: feeding a loop end of an elastic member through a grommet formed in a mounting surface affixed to said gate panel and adjacent to one of said sleeves until a fastening member at an opposite end of the loop end of said elastic member comes into contact with said grommet; and extending the loop end of said elastic member around one of said pair of poles inserted in said sleeve and over a top of said fastening member to rest between a bottom surface of the fastening member and the grommet.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This application relates generally to the field of panel assemblies. More particularly, this application relates to apparatuses and methods for securing a panel, such as, for example, a slalom gate panel, to a pair of poles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As discussed in the Applicant's prior U.S. Pat. No. 6,389,659, entitled “GATE PANEL ATTACHMENT ASSEMBLY”, various apparatuses and methods have, over the years, been developed for securing panels or various other objects to poles or pole-type members. However, these conventional apparatuses and methods suffer from a number of drawbacks and deficiencies.

For example, according to one conventional approach, a resilient cord wrapped around an object or pole is manipulated around a pin to secure the cord around the pole. However, this conventional approach fails to provide an apparatus or method for preventing the cord from moving relative to the axis of the pole, such that a force applied to either the pole or the cord wrapped around the pole may cause the cord to slide along the length of the pole. In addition, the cord and pin according to this conventional approach are not integrally formed, but are instead formed as discrete, separate elements, resulting in increased complexity in design and use.

According to another conventional approach, one end of a slalom gate panel is attached to a first pole via an elastic cord fixed to an anchor internally housed in the bottom of the first pole, while a second pole is inserted in an open-ended sleeve formed on the opposing end of the gate panel. However, such an assembly is overly complex and typically difficult to assemble, attach and detach, causing the user to expend considerable time and energy in adjusting and/or securing the gate panel to the poles.

According to yet another conventional approach, a loop is formed in an elastic cord by crimping the ends of the elastic cord using a metal fastener. However, as with other conventional approaches, this approach fails to provide an apparatus or method for preventing the elastic cord from sliding along the length of a pole around which the loop end of the cord may be wrapped. Such an arrangement is also difficult to manipulate, especially in cold weather, thus eliminating ease of use.

A number of additional binding approaches and panel assemblies exist; however, none of these approaches provide simple, inexpensive and easy-to-use means for securing a panel or object to a pole or pole-type member. In particular, traditional approaches fail to provide means for simply and inexpensively affixing a panel to a pair of poles to prevent the panel from sliding vertically downward relative to the poles.

Accordingly, there exists a need for an apparatus and method capable of simply and inexpensively affixing a panel to a pair of poles such that the panel is prevented from sliding vertically downward relative to the poles.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In at least one exemplary embodiment, a gate panel assembly comprises a panel, including a pair of sleeves on opposing ends of the panel, and a pair of poles, with each pole respectively engaging one of the sleeves. Preferably, in certain embodiments, an end of at least one of the sleeves is closed to engage the top of the pole engaged in the sleeve so as to prevent the panel from sliding vertically downward relative to the poles. The poles respectively engaged in the sleeves may also be spaced apart from one another to create tension in the panel.

In certain embodiments, the gate panel assembly also includes at least one panel attachment assembly for affixing the panel to at least one pole. This panel attachment assembly may comprise a fastening member, a cord having a fixed end housed in the fastening member forming a loop in the cord, and a mounting surface affixed to the panel and adjacent to one of the sleeves. In at least one embodiment, the loop of the cord is fed through a hole defined in the mounting surface, around one of the poles engaged in one of the sleeves, and over a top of the fastening member.

In certain embodiments, a grommet is formed in the hole defined in the mounting surface. The fastening member may be any number of items, including a button, a ball or a rod. The fastening member may also be formed of plastic, rubber or any number of elastomeric or polymer materials.

In at least one embodiment, the loop of the cord is stretched to rest between a lower surface of the fastening member and the mounting surface. The fixed end of the cord may also be positioned opposite the loop and crimped by a fastener, which fastener may be formed of metal.

According to certain embodiments, the fastening member houses the fixed end of the cord and the fastener in an inner surface thereof. The fixed end of the cord may also be positioned opposite the loop and formed integrally with the fastening member. The cord may also be formed of an elastic material that stretches around the sleeved pole to create a tension that retains the pole in the sleeve of the panel.

In some embodiments, a strength member is affixed to at least the panel and the sleeve having the closed end to impart additional resistance to impact forces applied to the gate panel assembly.

In at least one embodiment, a gate panel comprises a first pair of sleeves formed on opposing ends of a panel, wherein an end of at least one of the first pair of sleeves is closed. This closed end may engage a top of a pole engaged in the sleeve having the closed end to prevent the panel from sliding vertically downward relative to the pole.

According to some embodiments, the gate panel further comprises a second pair of opposing sleeves, wherein each of the second pair of opposing sleeves is positioned adjacent to one of the first pair of sleeves and the diameters of the second pair of sleeves differ from the diameters of the first pair of sleeves.

According to certain embodiments, a method of assembling a gate panel assembly comprises inserting each of a pair of spaced poles into one of a pair of sleeves formed on opposing ends of a gate panel such that the gate panel is prevented from sliding vertically downward relative to the poles by a closed end formed in at least one of the sleeves.

In some embodiments, this method further comprises attaching at least one of the poles to the gate panel by feeding a loop end of an elastic member through a grommet formed in a mounting surface affixed to the gate panel and adjacent to one of the sleeves until a fastening member at an opposite end of the loop end of the elastic member comes into contact with the grommet, and extending the loop end of the elastic member around one of the poles inserted in the sleeve and over a top of the fastening member to rest between a bottom surface of the fastening member and the grommet.

These and other exemplary embodiments will be more fully understood upon reading the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a gate panel assembly.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a closed ended sleeve for affixing a panel to a pole.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of an attachment assembly for affixing a panel to a pole.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative exemplary embodiment of an attachment assembly for affixing a panel to a pole.

FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a looped cord and fastener.

FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a looped cord and fastener affixed to a fastening member.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating an alternative exemplary embodiment of a gate panel assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a gate panel assembly. FIG. 2 is an exploded view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a closed ended sleeve used for affixing a panel to a pole.

According to at least one embodiment, exemplary gate panel assembly 1 comprises a panel 5 having sleeves 15, 20 formed on opposing ends and poles 10 respectively engaged in each sleeve 15, 20. One end of each pole 10 may be inserted and retained in each sleeve 15, 20, while its other end may be inserted in the ground or other fixture.

Panel 5 may be formed of any number of materials, including, for example, twill, nylon and polymesh. Panel 5 may also be formed in any number of shapes and sizes, including, for example, as a rectangle, a triangle, a square, a circle, etc.

Panel 5 may also be adapted for use in connection with any number of events and activities. For example, exemplary panel 5 may be formed of a particular color, have meaning to a contestant of an event or race, or carry various forms of indicia, such as advertising indicia.

Sleeves 15, 20 and poles 10 may also be formed in any number of shapes and sizes. In addition, the openings of sleeves 15, 20 may be adapted for use in connection with poles 10 of varying heights and diameters.

In at least one embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, at least one sleeve 20 is formed so as to have a closed end 22 to prevent panel 5 from sliding vertically downward relative to a pole 10 completely inserted into sleeve 20. For example, upon complete insertion of pole 10 into sleeve 20, the closed end 22 of sleeve 20 engages a top end of the sleeved pole 10, thereby preventing panel 5 attached to sleeve 20 from slipping further downward relative to pole 10.

By forming at least one sleeve of panel 5 to have a closed end 22, a simple and inexpensive apparatus is provided for preventing the downward slippage of panel 5, even upon forcible contact by an object or person with gate panel assembly 1. The constitution of exemplary sleeve 20 having closed end 22 thus eliminates the need for the complicated and often cost-prohibitive fastening means employed in conventional assemblies.

Although exemplary gate panel assembly 1 is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 as having one sleeve 20 having a closed end 22 and one sleeve 15 having an open end, according to certain embodiments both sleeve 15 and sleeve 20 may be formed having closed ends, thereby eliminating the need for additional fastening means. Alternatively, as discussed in greater detail below in connection with FIGS. 3-6, according to other exemplary embodiments gate panel assembly 1 may be formed having one sleeve 20 having a closed end 22 and one sleeve 15 having an open end and affixed to pole 10 via attachment assembly 40.

A detailed description will now be provided with reference to FIGS. 1 and 3-6 of an exemplary gate panel assembly in which one sleeve 15 having an open end is affixed to a pole 10 by an attachment assembly 40.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, in at least one embodiment panel 5 is attached to at least one of the poles 10 by a panel attachment assembly 40. As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, panel attachment assembly 40 may comprise a fastening member 44, a cord 42 having a fixed end housed in fastening member 44 to form a loop 46 in the cord 42, and a mounting surface 48 affixed to panel 5 and adjacent to one of sleeves 15, 20. Fastening member 40 may be of any shape or size and may be formed of any number of materials. For example, fastening member 40 may be a ball (illustrated in FIG. 3), a button (illustrated in FIG. 4) or a rod (not shown). Fastening member 40 may also be formed of plastic, rubber, etc., as opposed to metal, to avoid injury to the face, head, etc. of a skier colliding with the gate panel assembly.

Cord 42 may be of any workable length sufficient to maintain tensioned attachment to pole 10. In particular, the length of the loop end 46 must be relative to the circumference of each pole 10 for a tight engagement therebetween. Cord 42 may be formed of any number of materials, including, for example, elastic or other elastomeric materials.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, the fixed end of cord 42 opposite the loop end 46 may also be crimped by a fastener 47 formed of any number of materials, including, for example, metal. In certain embodiments, the fixed end of cord 42 and fastener 47 are integrally formed or housed in an inner surface of fastening member 44, as shown in FIG. 6. This may be accomplished by, for example, fusing, gluing or otherwise affixing the crimped fastener 47 or fixed end of cord 42 to the inner or bottom surface of fastening member 44. By affixing fastener 47 to the inner or bottom surface of fastening member 44 in this manner, a skier is prevented from coming into forcible contact with fastener 47, which may be formed of metal, thereby reducing the risk of injury to the skier.

In certain embodiments, mounting surface 48 is affixed to panel 5 and is formed adjacent to sleeve 15. Mounting surface 48 may be of any size or shape and may be formed of any number of materials, including, for example, resin, polymer, twill, nylon, polymesh, etc. As seen in FIG. 3, a hole may be defined in mounting surface 48 to allow the loop end 46 of cord 42 to pass therethrough. A grommet 50 may also be formed be formed in this hole defined in mounting surface 48 to reduce friction and the incidence of tearing in mounting surface 48.

According to some embodiments, as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, the loop end 46 of cord 42 is fed through either side of grommet 50 fixed in mounting surface 48, stretched around a sleeved pole 10, and over a top of fastening member 44. In at least one embodiment, cord 42 stretched over top of fastening member 44 rests between an upper surface of mounting surface 48 and a lower surface of fastening member 44.

The tension created by stretching cord 42 through grommet 50, around sleeved pole 10 and over the top of fastening member 44 serves to securely affix panel 5 to the sleeved pole 10. Any amount of tugging force will not cause cord 42 to pull away from fastening member 44, thus, creating a self-retaining system. A simple and inexpensive apparatus and method is thus provided for affixing a gate panel to a pole.

In certain embodiments, a strength member 25 may be affixed to at least panel 5 and sleeve 20 to impart additional resistance to potential separation of panel 5 from sleeve 20 caused by impact forces applied to gate panel assembly 1. As with panel 5, strength member 25 may be formed of any number of materials, including, for example, elastomeric materials, twill, nylon, polymesh, etc. The shape and size of strength member 25 may also be varied as desired.

An alternative gate panel embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 7. According to at least this exemplary embodiment, a gate panel comprises a first pair of sleeves 15, 20 formed on opposing ends of the panel and a second pair of opposing sleeves 30, 35. In this exemplary embodiment, each of the second pair of sleeves 30, 35 is positioned adjacent to one of the first pair of sleeves 15, 20. In other words, as seen in FIG. 7, sleeve 30 may be positioned adjacent to sleeve 15, while sleeve 35 may be positioned adjacent to sleeve 20.

In at least one embodiment, the diameter of each of the second pair of sleeves 30, 35 differs from the diameter of each of the first pair of sleeves 15, 20. The diameters of the second pair of sleeves 30, 35 differ from that of the first pair of sleeves so that a single panel 5 may be adapted for use in connection with poles 10 of varying diameters. For example, the first pair of sleeves 15, 20 of exemplary panel 5 illustrated in FIG. 7 may be adapted for use in connection with poles having a diameter of 27 mm, while the second pair of sleeves 30, 35 may be adapted for use in connection with poles having a diameter of 30 mm. Thus, a single gate panel can be adapted for use in connection with poles of varying diameters, as compared to traditional assemblies which are only adapted for use in connection with poles of a single diameter.

In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes, the principles and modes of operation have been explained and illustrated in preferred embodiments. However, it must be understood that these and other exemplary embodiments may be practiced otherwise than is specifically explained and illustrated without departing from the spirit or scope thereof.

In particular, although various exemplary embodiments have been described as being adapted for use in connection with downhill slalom skiing events, it will be appreciated that these and other embodiments may be adapted for use in connection with any number of other activities or uses, including, for example, snowboard racing events, mountain bike racing events, advertising promotions, etc.