Title:
Fence bracket
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fence bracket for assisting a fence installer to erect and retain a fencing structure to a fence pole. The fence bracket includes at least one sidewall including a first end and a second end. An interior surface of the bracket has at least one corrugated portion thereon for engaging and aligning a structural member of a fencing structure to a fence pole. The corrugated portion includes interleaved grooves and folds for receiving a structural member of the fencing structure a groove and securing it to the pole. The first and second ends are adapted for securing said fence bracket to said fence pole. In one embodiment, the fence bracket has a flexible portion that allows the bracket to be opened and closed around the pole during installation. The fence bracket can secure one or more fencing structures to a single pole at various angles with respect to the pole.



Inventors:
Tamez, Edgar Tamez (Saltillo, MX)
Miranda, Jaime Cesar Mendieta (Santa Catarina, MX)
Application Number:
11/207833
Publication Date:
09/14/2006
Filing Date:
08/19/2005
Assignee:
DEACERO, S.A. DE C.V.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20090032790Portable electric fenceFebruary, 2009Timms
20040245512Fabric Fence SystemDecember, 2004Naegele
20080087873Fence Construction SystemsApril, 2008Auret
20070063178GUARDRAIL FLANGE PROTECTORMarch, 2007Alberson et al.
20090184303BALUSTRADINGJuly, 2009Jones et al.
20060226408Elevation panelOctober, 2006Huizingh
20090321697VIEWER FENCEDecember, 2009Robinson
20090140226PVC GATE ASSEMBLYJune, 2009Stull



Primary Examiner:
KENNEDY, JOSHUA T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ABELMAN, FRAYNE & SCHWAB (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fence bracket, comprising: at least one sidewall including a first end and a second end, and an interior surface having at least one corrugated portion adapted for engaging at least one structural member of a fencing structure to a fence pole, said first and second ends adapted for securing said fence bracket to said fence pole.

2. The fence bracket of claim 1, wherein said corrugated portion includes a plurality of interleaved folds and grooves, each groove being sized to accommodate a structural member of said fencing structure between a pair of folds.

3. The fence bracket of claim 2, wherein said interleaved folds and grooves are formed substantially perpendicular with respect to a length between said first and second ends of said at least one sidewall.

4. The fence bracket of claim 1, further comprising at least one lateral groove formed between said corrugated portion and at least one of said first and second ends.

5. The fence bracket of claim 4, wherein said at least one lateral groove is formed substantially perpendicular with respect to a length between said first and second ends of said at least one sidewall.

6. The fence bracket of claim 1, wherein said at least one sidewall comprises a shape adapted to circumscribe and engage a portion of said fence pole.

7. The fence bracket of claim 1, wherein said at least one sidewall further comprises a flexible portion formed between said first and second ends, said flexible member being adapted for opening and closing said fence bracket.

8. The fence bracket of claim 7, wherein said flexible portion of said at least one sidewall is formed approximately intermediate between said first and second ends.

9. The fence bracket of claim 1, wherein said first and second ends respectively comprise coaxially aligned apertures adapted to accommodate a fastener for securing said bracket around said fence pole.

10. The fence bracket of claim 1, wherein said first and second ends respectively comprise first and second flanges, said flanges extending outward with respect to an exterior surface of said at least one sidewall, said flanges being substantially adjacent to each other in an instance said fence bracket is in a closed state.

11. The fence bracket of claim 1, wherein said interior surface further comprises a plurality of ridges formed between said first and second ends, said plurality of ridges having a size and spacing adapted for securing said interior surface to said fence pole.

12. The fence bracket of claim 11, wherein said plurality of ridges are formed substantially perpendicular with respect to a length between said first and second ends of said at least one sidewall.

13. A fence bracket comprising: a front portion, a rear portion, and a pair of opposing lateral portions formed between said front, and rear portions, said front, rear, and lateral portions collectively forming an interior surface having a corrugated portion thereon for engagement and alignment of a structural member of a fencing structure with respect to a fence pole; and a first end and a second end adapted for securing said fence bracket to said fence pole.

14. The fence bracket of claim 13, wherein said corrugated portion includes a plurality of interleaved folds and grooves, each groove being sized to accommodate a structural member of said fencing structure between a pair of folds.

15. The fence bracket of claim 14, wherein said interleaved folds and grooves are formed substantially perpendicular with respect to a length between said pair of opposing lateral portions.

16. The fence bracket of claim 13, further comprising at least on lateral groove formed on at least one of said pair of opposing lateral portions.

17. The fence bracket of claim 16, wherein said at least one lateral groove is formed substantially perpendicular with respect to a length of said lateral portions.

18. The fence bracket of claim 13, wherein said front portion further comprises a flexible portion formed between said pair of opposing lateral portions, said flexible member being adapted for opening and closing said fence bracket.

19. The fence bracket of claim 13, wherein said rear portion comprises a first end and a second end, said first and second ends respectively including first and second flanges, said flanges extending outward with respect to an exterior surface of said rear portion, said flanges being substantially adjacent to each other in an instance said fence bracket is in a closed state.

20. The fence bracket of claim 19, wherein each flange includes an aperture adapted to accommodate a fastener for securing said bracket around said fence pole.

21. The fence bracket of claim 13, wherein said interior surface further comprises a plurality of ridges formed between said first and second ends, said plurality of ridges having a size and spacing adapted for securing said interior surface to said fence pole.

22. The fence bracket of claim 21, wherein said plurality of ridges are formed substantially perpendicular with respect to a length between said first and second ends of said at least one sidewall.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to fence brackets, more specifically, the present invention relates to a fence bracket adapted for fastening a portion of a fencing structure to a fence pole.

2. Description of Related Art

Erecting fences along property lines and other areas deemed desirable to divide or protect, can be difficult, time-consuming, labor intensive and expensive. Fencing structures (fabrics) such as panels, chain-link fencing, wire mesh fencing, among other fencing structures can be bulky and/or heavy, and usually require two or more people to lift and fasten the fencing structure to the fence poles.

Typically, the fence poles are installed on a surface, such as the ground, a foundation among other surfaces, and then the fencing structure is positioned and held against the pole for fastening thereto using a bracket or fastener (e.g., a staple, among other fasteners). For example, fence installers often fasten a corner or a section of the fencing to the pole in an impromptu or ad hoc manner, illustratively, by driving a nail through the fencing structure and into a wooden pole.

One problem observed when fastening the fencing structure between fence poles, is aligning a particular structural member of the fencing structure between the poles. The fence poles are not always true with respect to being exactly vertical, or positioned in a straight line or at right angles with respect to each other. Moreover, the fence poles are not always evenly spaced apart from each other. Such variations occurring during installation may be attributed various factors, such as the topography over which the fence is being erected, weak footings, or human factors, such as errors in measurement, improper installation of the poles or a combination of multiple factors.

When fastening the fencing structure (e.g., fence panel) to the poles, a lack of tolerance for such misaligned poles often leads to the fence installers having to compensate for the discrepancies or misalignments. Unfortunately, such compensation can result in the fencing fabric undesirably having excessive slack between fence poles or applying excessive stress on structural members of the fencing fabric. Excessive slack may compromise the security of the fence, as animals or people may attempt to take advantage of the slack to slip past (e.g., under) the fence. On the other hand, excessive stress on the structural members can cause wear and eventually damage such structural members, which can also compromise the integrity of the fencing structure. In either case, safety and security issues arise from an improperly installed fence.

One solution is for the fence installers to adjust the positioning of the misaligned poles. However, such repositioning is costly in terms of time, labor and efficiency. A less laborious solution is to utilize a fastener, such as a nail, screw or conventional bracket to secure the fencing structure to the pole. However, the nails and/or screws by themselves are not considered very good devices for permanently fastening the fencing structures to the posts. Moreover, although conventional fence brackets are much better for securing the fencing structure to the pole over nails, screws and the like, these fence brackets are not particularly helpful for remedying misalignments between the fencing structures and the poles. Therefore, there is a need in the art for an apparatus that will assist a fence installer with fastening and aligning fencing structures to a pole in a consistent, non-laborious and inexpensive manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The disadvantages heretofore associated with the prior art are overcome by the present invention of a fence bracket for assisting a fence installer to erect and retain a fencing structure, such as a fence panel, wire mesh fence, chain link fence, among other sections of a fencing structure, to a fence pole. The fence bracket includes at least one sidewall including a first end and a second end. An interior surface of the bracket has at least one corrugated portion formed thereon for engaging and aligning a structural member of a fencing structure to a fence pole. The corrugated portion includes interleaved folds and grooves for retaining the structural member (e.g., a vertical structural member of a wire mesh fence) of the fencing structure.

The at least one sidewall includes a flexible portion that enables the bracket to be opened and closed during installation around the pole. The interior surface of the bracket has a shape to accommodate the exterior surface of the fence pole. The first and second ends are adapted for securing said fence bracket to said fence pole.

In one embodiment, the interior surface of the fence bracket is illustratively square to conform around a square fence pole, although such shape should not be considered as being limiting. A front portion of the interior surface of the sidewall includes a pair of corrugated portions, which are separated by the flexible portion formed therebetween. Each corrugated portion includes a plurality of interleaved grooves and folds, where each groove is formed between a pair of folds. Any one of the grooves can be used to receive a structural member of the fencing structure.

The corrugated portions enable a fence installer to secure one or more fencing structures to a single pole. In particular, once the structural member is positioned in a groove, the bracket is fastened around the pole, such that the structural member is secured between the interior surface (i.e., groove) of the bracket and the exterior surface of the pole. Where two or more fencing structures are attached to the pole by the bracket, the fencing structures can be secured at various angles with respect to one another. Further, the corrugated portions enable a fence installer to remedy alignment and tolerance related problems by selecting a suitably positioned groove for retaining a structural member to ensure optimum integrity of the fencing structure.

Typically, each fence pole requires at least two fence brackets spaced a distance apart along the pole to secure a single fencing structure thereto. The optimal number of fence brackets used during installation depends on the height of the pole and the rigidity of the fencing structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The teachings of the present invention can be readily understood by considering the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a top traversal view of an illustrative fence bracket of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a first rear perspective view of the fence bracket of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a first lateral perspective view of the fence bracket of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a second lateral perspective view of the fence bracket of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a frontal perspective view of the fence bracket of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a second rear perspective view of the fence bracket of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a top traversal view of the fence bracket in an open configuration for securing a fencing structure to a fence pole; and

FIG. 8 is a top view of the fence bracket in a closed configuration for securing one or more fencing structures to a fence pole.

To facilitate an understanding of the invention, the same reference numerals have been used when appropriate, to designate the same or similar elements that are common to the figures. Further, unless stated otherwise, the drawings shown and discussed in the figures are not drawn to scale, but are shown for illustrative purposes only.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a fence bracket that advantageously assists in the installation process of securing fencing structures to fence poles. As illustratively discussed herein, the fence bracket of the present invention is particularly advantageous for securing fence structures, such as wire mesh fences, chain-link fences, lattice structured fences, wire partition panels, or any other fencing structures or fabrics having structural members that may be aligned and secured by the fence bracket.

The fence bracket of the present invention includes at least one sidewall having a corrugated portion formed on an interior surface of the sidewall. The corrugated portion includes a plurality of interleaved folds and grooves that are sized to accommodate a structural member of the fencing structure. For example, a panel fabricated from wire mesh fencing structures typically includes vertical and horizontal wires that form the structural members, which can be used to secure the fencing structure to the poles.

A flexible portion of the fence bracket allows the bracket to be selectively opened and closed around both the structural members and the pole. For example, the fence bracket can be inserted between a pair of adjacent horizontal structural members such that a vertical structural member of the panel is positioned in a groove between a pair of folds. When the bracket is closed about the fence pole, the structural members of the fencing structure are positioned therebetween. That is, the grooves and folds help align and secure the fence panel to the pole. For sake of clarity, the term fence “pole” includes any shaped pole, post, rod or other structural support for supporting, hanging or otherwise erecting a fencing structure. Although FIGS. 1-8 illustratively show a square shaped fence bracket that is sized for fastening a fencing structure to a square fence pole, a person skilled in the art will appreciate that the fence bracket of the present invention may include any shape and/or size to engage an exterior surface of a correspondingly shaped fence pole.

FIGS. 1-6 depict various views of an illustrative fence bracket 100 of the present invention. Referring to FIG. 1, which is a top traversal view of the illustrative fence bracket 100, the fence bracket 100 comprises at least one sidewall 110 having an interior surface 112 and an exterior surface 114.

In particular, the at least one side wall 110 is illustratively shown as having a square shape to circumscribe a square shaped fence pole. The at least one side wall 110 includes a first end 116 and a second end 118. When the bracket 100 is in a closed position, the first and second ends are positioned adjacent to each other such that a slot 142 is formed therebetween. As illustratively shown in FIGS. 1-6, the square shaped fence bracket 100 includes a front portion 120, a rear portion 122, and lateral side portions 1241 and 1242 (collectively lateral portions 124). Accordingly, the interior wall 112 extends contiguously, illustratively, from the first ends 116 along the rear portion 122, and extends along the first lateral portion 1241, the front portion 120, the second lateral portion 1242, and terminates along the rear portion 122 at the second ends 118 of the bracket 100.

The bracket 100 is also shown with the exterior surface wall 114 substantially conforming to the square shape of the interior surface wall 116, and having a substantially uniform thickness. However, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the exterior wall 114 can have a nonconforming shape with respect to the shape of the interior wall 112.

In one embodiment, the first end 116 and second end 118 respectively include rear flange 1401 and rear flange 1402 (collectively rear flanges 140) extending outward from the exterior wall 114. In this embodiment, the first and second ends 116 and 118 are “L-shaped,” and a rear slot 142 is formed between the flanges 140 when the bracket 100 is in a closed position. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, aperture 1441 is formed in first rear flange 1401, and aperture 1442 is formed in the second rear flange 1402. The apertures 144 are formed co-axially with each other such that a fastener (e.g., a bolt and nut) can be inserted through the apertures 144 to securely retain the bracket 100 in a closed position. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the apertures 144 are sized to accommodate a particular sized fastener, such as a threaded bolt, among other fasteners, and that more than one aperture can be included in each flange 140, depending on the height of the brackets 100.

Referring to FIG. 1, the interior wall 112 along the front portion 120 of the bracket 100 includes at least one corrugated portion, illustratively corrugated portions 1321 and 1322 (collectively corrugated portions 132). The corrugated portions 132 each comprise a plurality of interleaved folds 134 and grooves 136. As shown in FIG. 1, “universal” shaped grooves are preferably formed in the corrugated portions 132 having a curved bottom portion and substantially opposing oblique or parallel linear sidewalls (i.e., opposing sidewalls of adjacent folds). The universal shaped grooves are suitable for retaining various shaped structural members of a fencing structure.

Alternatively, the grooves 136 can be sized and shaped to accommodate a particular shape of a structural member of a fencing structure (e.g., a vertical wire of a wire mesh fence). For example, square grooves can be provided to accommodate fencing structures having square shaped structural members, circular grooves can be provided to accommodate fencing structures having circular shaped structural members, and so forth.

In one embodiment, four folds 134 and four corresponding grooves 136 are formed along the front portion 120 between the first and second lateral portions 1241 and 1242, although the number of folds and grooves is not considered as being limiting. As such, a structural member of a fencing structure may be positioned in any one of the grooves 136 along the front portion 120 of the bracket 100.

In order to facilitate opening and closing of the bracket 100, preferably a flexible portion 138 is formed along the front portion 120 of the bracket 100. For example, as illustratively shown in FIG. 1, a non-corrugated gap 150 is provided between the corrugated portions 1321 and 1322 along the interior surface of the front portion. In one embodiment, the flexible portion 138 along the front portion 120 has a thickness that is less than the thickness of the remaining portions of the sidewall 112. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the thickness of the sidewall 110, as well as the flexible portion 138 is a design choice that is based on various factors associated with the type of materials from which the bracket 100 is fabricated, as well as desired traits and features associated with flexibility, durability, among other characteristics. Preferably the bracket 100 is fabricated from polyethylene. Alternatively, the bracket 100 can be fabricated from plastic, metal or any other flexible materials that permit the brackets 100 to be opened and closed without being damaged (e.g., tearing or snapping).

In addition to the corrugated portions 132 formed on interior surface 112 of the front portion 120, one or more lateral grooves 148 may be formed along the interior surface of the lateral portions 1241 and 1242 of the bracket 100. For example, a first lateral groove 1481 is formed proximately between the front portion 120 and rear portion 122. Similarly, a second lateral groove 1482 is also formed along the interior surface of the second lateral portion 1242 mid-way between the front portion 120 and rear portion 122 of the bracket 100. Although only a single lateral groove 148 is illustratively shown as being formed in each of the lateral portions 124, one skilled in the art will appreciate that additional lateral grooves 148 may also be provided along the interior surface of the lateral portions 124. The lateral grooves 148 are sized and shaped to accommodate a structural member of a fencing structure in a similar manner as described with respect to the grooves 136 of the corrugated portions 132. Thus, the illustrative bracket 100 is capable of securing a single or multiple fencing structures along any of the three sides of the bracket 100.

The at least one sidewall 110 can optionally include a plurality of interior ridges 146 formed along the interior surface 112 of the sidewall 110. The plurality of interior ridges 146 is illustratively formed along the interior surfaces of the lateral portions 1241 and 1242, as well as the rear portion 122, although the ridges can be formed on any one of the lateral and/or rear portions. In one embodiment, the interior ridges extend perpendicular between the top and bottom of the bracket 100. However, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the interior ridges 146 may also be formed parallel with respect to the upper and lower surfaces of the bracket 100. The interior ridges 146 advantageously increase the rigidity of the lateral portions 124 and the rear portion 122, as well as increase the contact area for securing the bracket 100 to the external surface of the fence pole.

Operation of the bracket 100 is now discussed with respect to FIGS. 7 and 8. FIG. 7 is a top traversal view of the fence bracket in an open configuration for securing a fencing structure 710 to a fence pole 702. Once a fence pole 702 is secured in the ground, a fencing structure 710, such as a wire mesh fencing structure having a plurality of horizontal wire structure members 712 and a plurality of vertical structural members 714, is positioned along the length of the pole 720. One installation technique includes using a fence pole cap to assist in holding the horizontal and vertical structural members 712 and 714 substantially flush against the pole 720. The fence installer then opens the fence bracket 100 by separating the first and second ends 116 and 118 so that the slot 142 expands a distance sufficient to fit around the diameter of the fence pole 702. For a detailed understanding of the fence pole cap and its operation, the reader is directed to commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ , entitled “Method and Apparatus for Installing A Fencing Structure to a Fence Pole,” by Tamez, et al. (Attorney Docket No. AFFS 206,952) the content of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

As illustratively shown in FIG. 7, the first end 116 is inserted through an open portion formed between adjacent horizontal structural members 7121 and 7122 and adjacent vertical structural members 7141 and 7142 of the fencing structure 710. The fence installer then moves the bracket 100 along the sides of the fence pole 702 until the rear portion 122 is proximately adjacent to the rear portion of the fence pole 702. Once the bracket 100 substantially circumscribes the fence pole 702, the structural members, such as a vertical structural member 714, can be positioned within one of the grooves of a corrugated portion 132 or a lateral grooves 148. Thereafter, the fence installer closes the bracket 100 by pushing the first and second ends 116 and 118 of the bracket 100 towards each and around the rear portion of the pole. The first and second ends 116 and 118 (e. g., rear flanges 140) are secured together by a fastener (e.g., bolt and nut) 802 extending through the apertures 144, as illustratively shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 8 is a top view of the fence bracket 100 in a closed configuration for securing a fencing structure 710 to a fence pole 702. FIG. 8 illustrates a vertical structural member 7141 of fencing structure 7101 being retained by a corner groove 136 of a corrugated portion 132. Similarly, a second fencing structure 7102 is shown having a vertical structural member 7142 being retained by lateral groove 1482 of lateral portion 1242. Accordingly, the bracket 100 is capable of securing multiple fencing structures 710 to a single pole 702.

FIG. 8 also illustratively depicts fencing structures 710 alternatively or additionally being positioned in other grooves 148 and 136, as shown in phantom.

The grooves 136 and 148 allow the fencing structures 710 to be secured to the fence pole 702 at various angles. For example, fencing structure 7102 can be positioned approximately 180° along the lateral side of the fence post 702. Similarly, a corner groove formed in the corrugated portion 132 of the fence bracket 100 also allows approximately 180° of rotation tangent to the corner of the fence pole 702. Additionally, interior grooves 136 of the corrugated portions 132 also facilitate various angles at which the fencing structure 710 can be secured to the front portion of the fence pole 702.

As such, the fencing bracket 100 of the present invention accommodates securing one or more fencing structures 710 to a single fence pole 702. Furthermore, the fencing structure may be attached to the fence pole at various angles to accommodate different pole positions.

Moreover, fence bracket 100 of the present invention is useful for remedying misalignment or lack of tolerance issues between the structural members of the fencing structure and the pole, illustratively, due to misalignment of the poles. Referring to FIG. 8, for example, if fencing structure 710, is found to have excess slack when its vertical structural member is retained in the first corner groove of first corrugated portion 1321, the vertical structural member can be relocated and retained in a distal groove on the bracket, such as a groove formed in corrugated portion 1322, to thereby decrease the slack in the fencing structure. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the groove selected to secure the structural member of the fencing structure is one that optimizes the overall integrity of the fencing structure.

Although various embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the present invention have been shown and described in detail herein, those skilled in the art can readily devise many other varied embodiments that still incorporate these teachings.