Title:
Break-away post
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A break-away post includes a post portion, a base portion, and a shear pin. The post portion includes a mounting base and an aperture disposed through the mounting base. The base portion includes a mounting head having an aperture disposed therethrough. The shear pin includes a compressible ring portion adapted to be inserted through the aperture of the mounting head when the mounting head is disposed through the aperture of mounting base thereby coupling the post portion to the base portion.



Inventors:
Chapel, Karl (Grand Haven, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/086000
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/22/2005
Assignee:
Grand Haven Plastics, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/22; E01F9/619; E04H12/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
A, PHI DIEU TRAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A break-away post comprising: an elongate post portion including a post aperture; a base portion including a mounting head sized and configured to be disposed through the post aperture of the post portion, the mounting head including a head aperture therethrough; and a shear pin sized and configured to be inserted through the head aperture of the mounting head when the mounting head is disposed through the post aperture of the post portion.

2. The break-away post of claim 1, wherein: the shear pin includes a compressible ring portion which compresses upon insertion of the shear pin into the head aperture of the mounting head.

3. The break-away post of claim 1, wherein: the post portion includes a reflector mounting area including at least one recess adapted to receive a reflector.

4. The break-away post of claim 1, wherein: the post portions include at least one reflector.

5. The break-away post of claim 1, wherein: the post portion includes a rounded front side.

6. The break-away post of claim 1, wherein: the post portion includes bracing.

7. The break-away post of claim 1, wherein: the base portion includes a stake.

8. The break-away post of claim 7, wherein: the stake includes at least one fin.

9. The break-away support post of claim 1, further including: a tether cord connecting the post portion to the base portion.

10. A break-away post assembly comprising: a post; a base configured to be engaged with the post; a first one of the post or the base includes a first aperture, and a second one of the post or the base includes a mounting head adapted to mate with the first aperture, the mounting head including a second aperture disposed therethrough; and a shear pin that is adapted to be insertable through the second aperture to secure the post to the base.

11. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the post portion includes a reflector mounting area including at least one recess adapted to receive a reflector.

12. The break-away post assembly of claim 11, wherein: the post portions include at least one reflector.

13. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the post includes a front side having a rounded surface.

14. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the post includes a back side including bracing.

15. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the post includes the first aperture and the base includes the mounting head.

16. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the base includes a plurality of fins.

17. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the shear pin includes a compressible ring adapted to compress upon insertion into the second aperture and to expand upon exiting therefrom.

18. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the shear pin shears when subjected to a predetermined force.

19. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, further including: a tether cord connected to the post portion and the base portion.

20. The break-away post assembly of claim 10, wherein: the first aperture includes a first flat edge and the mounting head includes a flat side; wherein the flat edge and flat side are aligned when the mounting head is mated to the first aperture.

21. A break-away post comprising: a post including a post aperture; a base including a mounting head, the mounting head including a base aperture disposed therethrough; and a shear pin including a compressible portion; wherein the mounting head is sized and configured to be disposed through the post aperture and the shear pin is sized and configured to be disposed through the post aperture, thereby coupling the post to the base.

22. The break-away post of claim 21, wherein: the compressible portion is compressed when the shear pin is inserted into the post aperture and decompressed when the compressible portion exits the post aperture.

23. The break-away post of claim 21, wherein: the post portion includes a reflector mounting area including at least one recess adapted to receive a reflector.

24. The break-away post of claim 23, wherein: the post portions include at least one reflector.

25. The break-away post of claim 21, wherein: the post includes a rounded front side.

26. The break-away post of claim 21, wherein: the post includes bracing.

27. The break-away post of claim 21, wherein: the base includes a stake.

28. The break-away post of claim 21, further including: a tether cord for connecting the post to the base.

29. The break-away post of claim 21, wherein: the shear pin is broken when subjected to a predetermined force.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to sign posts and delineators, and more particularly, to break-away sign posts and delineators.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sign posts and delineators typically include a base portion which is driven into the ground, and an upwardly extending post portion, which extends from the base portion above the ground. A sign or a reflector is often attached to the upper post to advise oncoming traffic of necessary information and/or to delineate the roadway from a median, gully, or other off road surface.

Sign posts and delineators which are currently available typically comprise an eight foot steel post which is driven into the ground to a final exposed height of approximately 48 inches, where colored reflectors and/or signage are installed thereon. However, current delineators are problematic because of the relatively high cost, both in materials and manpower, which is required to install and/or replace the delineator. For example, when such a delineator is first installed, a relatively expensive steel post must be driven approximately four feet into the ground and the reflectors or signage then assemble thereto. These operations are both time consuming and require relatively expensive materials. Further, when such a delineator is hit by a car, plow or other object, the delineator can become irreversibly bent requiring replacement of the entire post. Replacing the entire delineator is also time consuming and costly. Thus, a system solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An aspect of the present invention is to provide a break-away post assembly comprising an elongate post portion including a post aperture, a base portion including a mounting head sized and configured to be disposed through the post aperture of the post portion, the mounting head including a head aperture therethrough, and a shear pin sized and configured to be inserted through the head aperture of the mounting head when the mounting head is disposed through the post aperture of the post portion.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a break-away post assembly comprising a post and a base configured to be engaged with the post. A first one of the post or the base includes a first aperture, and a second one of the post or the base includes a mounting head adapted to mate with the first aperture. The mounting head includes a second aperture disposed therethrough and a shear pin that is adapted to be insertable through the second aperture to secure the post to the base.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is to provide a break-away post assembly comprising a post including a post aperture, a base including a mounting head, the mounting head including a base aperture disposed therethrough, and a shear pin including a compressible portion. The mounting head is sized and configured to be disposed through the post aperture and the shear pin is sized and configured to be disposed through the post aperture, thereby coupling the post to the base.

These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a break-away post assembly embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the break-away post assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of a post portion of the break-away post assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a base portion of the break-away post assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a shear pin of the break-away post assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a partial cross-sectional view of the break-away post assembly taken along line VI-VI of FIG. 1, including a tether cord;

FIG. 7 is an exploded fragmentary perspective view of a second embodiment of the break-away post assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the break-away post assembly of the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a rear view of a top of the post portion of the third embodiment of the break-away post assembly of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention may be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art with reference to the following written specification, claims and appended drawings.

For the purposes of description herein, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “right,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the inventions as oriented in FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification are exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics related to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

As best illustrated by FIG. 1, the reference numeral 2 generally designates a break-away post assembly embodying the present invention. In the illustrated example, the break-away post assembly 2 includes a post portion 10 which is releasably, frangibly or breakably connected to a base portion 40. The post portion 10 includes an elongate shaft 12 having a first shaft end 14 and a second shaft end 15. The post portion 10 also includes a mounting base 16 adjacent the first shaft end 14 of the shaft 12. The mounting base 16 has a centrally disposed aperture 20 disposed therethrough (FIG. 3). The aperture 20, however, may be disposed at any location within the mounting base 16 as the specific requirements may dictate. The mounting base 16 also includes a flange 18, which aids in supporting the elongate shaft 12.

The base portion 40 includes an elongate stake 42 having a top portion 44 and a bottom portion 45 (FIG. 4). Disposed adjacent the top portion 44 is a mounting plate 46 including a centrally located mounting head 48 having apertures 50 and 50′ disposed therethrough (FIG. 4), wherein the head 48 is located, sized, and configured to be insertable through the aperture 20 of the mounting base 16, thereby positioning the post portion 10 co-linearly with the base portion 40. In one embodiment, the mounting head 48 includes a spherical geometry. However, numerous other configurations may be utilized. The head 48 can be located anywhere on the plate 46 as long as it is co-linear with the aperture 20 of the base 16. The mounting plate 46 also includes a peripheral flange 52 and a top side 53 (FIG. 4).

The break-away post assembly 2 also includes a shear pin 70 having an elongate shaft 72, a compressible ring portion 78, and a head 76 (FIG. 6). The shear pin 70 is sized and configured to be inserted through aperture 50 or 50′ of the mounting head 48. The compressible ring portion 78 of the shear pin 70 has an outer diameter D which is equal to or greater than a diameter D′ of the apertures 50 and 50′.

With respect to FIG. 1, the post portion 10 also includes a mounting head 22 adjacent the second shaft end 15 of the shaft 12. However, this is merely exemplary and the mounting head 22 may be positioned anywhere along the shaft 12. The mounting head 22 includes a first side 23 which may include one or more recesses 24. The recesses 24 may be utilized, for example, to affix and retain therein one or more reflectors (not shown). Such reflectors may be positioned within the recesses 24, thereby allowing the break-away post assembly 2 to be utilized as a delineator along roadsides. The mounting head 22 also may be configured to retain signage rather than or in addition to reflectors, allowing the break-away post assembly 2 to be utilized as a break-away sign post. Further, the mounting head 22 may be completely omitted from the post 10 as the specific requirements dictate.

One preferred embodiment of the break-away post assembly 2 is illustrated in FIG. 1, wherein the shaft 12 has a front face 26 which is rounded. In this embodiment, when the break-away post assembly 2 is installed, the rounded front face 26 is positioned to face oncoming traffic. This positioning allows air flow and fluids and/or other materials (e.g. wind, water or snow) which are brought into contact with the front face 26 to be deflected therefrom. For example, in northern climates where snow-plows are used, the rounded front face 26 can act to disburse the snow which is projected from the snowplow and thrown at the break-away post assembly 2. This configuration allows the break-away post assembly 2 to better resist forces or materials which may act to push on or push over the post 2.

As illustrated by FIGS. 2-3, in one preferred embodiment, the elongate shaft 12 is hollow and has a rear side 28 which includes cross members or bracing 30. The bracing 30 adds to the structural rigidity and overall strength of the shaft 12. The bracing 30 of the shaft 12 may take on various configurations or may be omitted as the particular requirements dictate.

In a preferred embodiment, the post 10 is fabricated from a thermoplastic, such as polypropylene. Other plastics which also may be utilized include, but are not limited to ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PC (Polycarbonate) and PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate), either alone or in combination with one another. Further, although the preferred post portion 10 is molded into a one piece configuration, the invention is not meant to be so limited and other manufacturing techniques, such as machining, welding, and the like, may be utilized. Further yet, the post portion 10 need not be fabricated in a one-piece configuration and may be fabricated from numerous parts or from any material.

The bottom portion 45 of the stake 42 includes a plurality of fins 54 which aid in the insertion, retention, and stabilization of the base 40 into a ground surface (not shown). In a preferred embodiment, four orthogonally positioned fins 54 are utilized (FIG. 4).

In a preferred embodiment, the base portion 40 is fabricated from a thermoplastic, such as Xenoy which is available from GE Plastics. Other plastics which also may be utilized include, but are not limited to polypropylene, ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PC (Polycarbonate) and PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate), either alone or in combination with one another. Further, although the preferred base portion 40 is molded into a one piece configuration, the invention is not meant to be so limited and other manufacturing techniques such as machining, welding and the like may be utilized. Further yet, the base portion 40 may be fabricated from numerous parts or any material as the specific requirements dictate.

The elongate shaft 72 of the shear pin 70 has a first end 74 and a second end 75. The head 76 is located adjacent the first end 74. The compressible ring portion 78 is displaced on the shaft 72 and is utilized to aid in the retention of the shear pin 70 within the apertures 50 and 50′ of the mounting head 48. When the head 48 of the mounting plate 46 of base portion 40 is disposed through the aperture 20 of the mounting base 16 of the post 10, and when the shear pin 70 is inserted through the apertures 50 and/or 50′, the shear pin 70 acts to secure the post portion 10 to the base portion 40. This configuration allows the post portion 10 to be released from the base portion 40 when the post portion 10 encounters a specified force. For example, if a vehicle makes contact with the post portion 10 and the impact force upon the post portion 10 is great enough to shear or break the shear pin 70, the post portion 10 will be released from the base portion 40, with the base portion 40 remaining affixed within the ground surface. This allows the post portion 10 to be re-affixed or reused by re-mounting the post portion 10 to the base portion 40 through the use of a new shear pin 70.

The shear pin 70 may be fabricated from material having known characteristics and properties and/or a varied geometry, thereby allowing the post portion 10 to be forcefully removed from the base portion 40 under a known and/or specified force. For example, the shear pin 70 can be fabricated to break only after the post portion 10 is subjected to a certain, specified amount of force. The amount of force required to break the shear pin 70 can be predetermined and varied by choosing to fabricate the pin 70 from differing materials and/or with different geometries. In one preferred embodiment, the shear pin 70 is cylindrical in geometry (FIG. 5).

In a preferred embodiment, the shear pin 70 is fabricated from a thermoplastic, such as Xenoy which is available from GE Plastics, polypropylene or ABS. Other plastics which may also include, but are not limited to PC (Polycarbonate) and PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate), either alone or in combination with one another. Further, although the illustrated shear pin 70 is molded, the invention is not meant to be so limited and other manufacturing techniques such as machining, welding and the like may be utilized. Further yet, although the preferred embodiment utilizes a one-piece configuration, wherein a single compressible ring portion 78 is molded into the shear pin 70, the invention may utilize one or more non-molded or separate compressible portions. Moreover, the shear pin 70 may be made from any material that allows the shear pin 70 to shear or break as described above.

In use, the base portion 40 is affixed to the post portion 10 by locating the flange 18 of the post portion 10 adjacent to and above the top side 53 of the flange 52 of the base portion 40 and passing the mounting head 48 of the base portion 40 through the aperture 20 of the post 10 (FIG. 6). The apertures 50 and 50′ of the mounting head 48 are positioned such that when the head 48 is inserted through the aperture 20 of the post portion 10, the apertures 50 and 50′ are above an inside surface 19 of the mounting base 16 of the post portion 10. Once the mounting head 48 is disposed through the aperture 20 of the mounting base 16, the second end 75 of the shear pin 70 is inserted into the aperture 50 or 50′ and through the apertures 50 and 50′. Specifically, the shear pin 70 is inserted into one of the apertures 50 or 50′ and then through the corresponding opposite aperture 50′ or 50, respectively. During such insertion, when the compressible ring portion 78 of the shear pin 70 passes through the apertures 50 and 50′, the compressible ring portion 78 compresses. When the compressible ring portion 78 exits the apertures 50 or 50′, the compressible ring portion 78 re-expands (FIG. 6). The compressible portion 78 is positioned along the shaft 72 such that both the head 76 and the compressible ring portion 78 of the shear pin 70 reside adjacent to and outside of the apertures 50 and 50′, respectively (FIG. 6). This combination of elements ensures that the shear pin 70 is securely retained and not readily removed from the apertures 50 and 50′, and the post portion 10 is thereby secured and not readily removed from the base portion 40. Alternatively, the compressible ring portion 78 may reside within a tether aperture 51 of the mounting head 48 of the mounting plate 46 of the base portion 40. Once the shear pin 70 is positioned through the apertures 50 and 50′, the break-away post assembly 2 can be inserted into the ground surface such that the stake portion 42, and in the preferred design, the fins 54 are inserted into the ground surface until the mounting base 46 is adjacent to and abuts the ground surface.

As discussed above, if the post portion 10 encounters a force high enough to break the shear pin 70, the shear pin 70 will shear or break, thereby allowing the post portion 10 to be released from the base portion 40 while the base portion 40 remains securely affixed or retained within the ground surface. Therefore, rather than requiring replacement of an entire new post 2, the base portion 40 remains in the ground and the break-away post assembly 2 can be reassembled by simply reinserting the post portion 10 onto the base portion 40 and inserting a new shear pin 70 as described above, thereby saving the time, money and effort required to replace the typical, current delineator or sign post.

As referred to above, the mounting head 48 of the mounting plate 46 of the base portion 40 also may include the tether aperture 51 (FIGS. 1, 4, 6). Further, the break-away post assembly 2 also may include a tether cord 90 having a first end 91 which is disposed through, affixed or otherwise attached through the tether aperture 51 of the mounting head 48 of the base portion 40, and a second end 92 affixed or otherwise attached to the post portion 10. The tether cord 90 can be otherwise attached by each of its ends 91 and 92 to the base portion 40 and the post portion 10. With the post portion 10 tethered to the base portion 40, when the post portion 10 is forcefully removed from the base portion 40, as for example when the post 2 is hit by oncoming traffic, the post portion 10 does not become air-born and/or thrown. Further, the tether cord 90 prevents the post portion 10 from being lost and/or far-removed from the base portion 40.

Although the preferred embodiment utilizes a semi-spherical mounting head 48 which may be inserted through the aperture 20 in any orientation, an alternative embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 7, wherein a head 48a of a base portion 40a and an aperture 20a of a post portion 10a are configured so as to allow insertion therethrough in a single, specified orientation. This prevents the post portion 10a from being mounted to the base portion 40a in an orientation other than that allowed by the mating of the head 48a and the aperture 20a. For example, the head 48a may be designed to allow orientation with the aperture 20a in a single direction such that the post portion 10a has a specified front and rear side as oriented with respect to the base portion 40a. In one preferred embodiment, a flat portion 21 and a flat portion 49 are used on the aperture 20a and the mounting head 48a, respectively, to achieve this specific orientation.

The reference numeral 2a (FIGS. 8-9) generally designates another embodiment of the present invention, having a third embodiment for the break-away post assembly. Since the break-away post assembly 2a is similar to the previously described break-away post assembly 2, similar parts appearing in FIGS. 1-6 and FIGS. 8-9, respectively, are represented by the same, corresponding reference number, except for the suffix “a” in the numerals of the latter. The third embodiment of the break-away post assembly 2a includes a post portion 10a which is releasably, frangibly or breakably connected to a base portion 40a as in the first embodiment of the break-away post assembly 2.

In the illustrated embodiment, the base portion 40a of the third embodiment of the break-away post assembly 2a is similar to the base portion 40 of the first embodiment of the break-away post assembly 2, except that the base portion 40a does not include the peripheral flange 52 or the fins 54. However, the stake 42a includes triangular top supports 100 extending between tops of the stake 42a and a bottom of a mounting plate 46a. However, it is contemplated that the base portion 40a could have the peripheral flange 52 and/or the fins 54.

The illustrated post portion 10a of the third embodiment of the break-away post assembly 10a is removably connected to the base portion 40a using a shear pin 70a as described in the first embodiment of the break-away post assembly 2. The post portion 10a of the third embodiment of the break-away post assembly 10a is substantially trapezoidal shaped and includes a rectangular mounting base 16a, a first side wall 102 and a second side wall 104. The first side wall 102 and the second side wall 104 extend upwardly from the mounting base 16a and taper towards each other. The first side wall 102 and the second side wall 104 meet at a top horizontal plate 106 which extends between the first side wall 102 and the second side wall 104. The post portion 10a includes a strengthening panel 108 extending between the first side wall 102 and the second side wall 104, with the panel 108 being perpendicular to the mounting base 16a, the first side wall 102 and the second side wall 104. The panel 108 includes a plurality of openings 110 therethrough. The post portion 10a also includes a plurality of X-shaped supports 112 extending between the first side wall 102 and the second side wall 104, with the X-shaped supports 112 also being connected to and on each side of the panel 108. The post portion 10a includes reflectors 120 at the mounting head 22a.

In the illustrated example, the mounting head 22a extends upwardly from the top horizontal plate 106 of the post portion 10a. The mounting head 22a includes a panel 122 extending upwardly from the top horizontal plate 106 and a peripheral flange 124 extending rearward from the panel 122. The panel 122 includes a plurality of holes 126 therethrough for accepting pins 128 extending from a rear of the reflectors 120. Accordingly, the reflectors 120 are connected to the panel 122 of the mounting head 22a. The reflectors 120 are illustrated as being two in number and circular. However, it is contemplated that any number or shape of the reflector 120 could be used.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.