Title:
Flexible fence assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fence assembly is made up of a plurality of fence sections. Each section is made up of panels with top, bottom and side edges and front and rear surfaces. Slots are spaced from and milled into the panels along one of the sets of edges. A pair of trim extends over and covers the set edges and each trim has projections that snap or slide into the front and rear slots. The fence sections are coupled pivotably to fence posts such that the panels may pivot, under force of wind, about either their top or bottom end. The panels are restored to generally vertical position by the force of gravity.



Inventors:
Dombroski, Edward L. (Poughkeepsie, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/143895
Publication Date:
12/07/2006
Filing Date:
06/02/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KENNEDY, JOSHUA T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HESLIN ROTHENBERG FARLEY & MESITI PC (ALBANY, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fence section for use in a fence assembly, comprising: a panel having a set of top and bottom edges, a set of opposite side edges, front and rear surfaces, and slots spaced from and running along at least one of the sets of edges and on both the front and rear surfaces; and, a pair of trim, each trim having a body portion extending over and covering the edge of said at least one set of edges and secured to the panel.

2. The fence section of claim 1 wherein each trim includes a pair of projections for snapping or sliding into the slots in the panel front and rear surfaces, thereby securing the trim to the panel.

3. The fence section of claim 1 wherein the slots are milled into the panel.

4. The fence section of claim 1 wherein the panel comprises a plurality of joined-together sheets.

5. The fence section of claim 1 wherein the panel comprises a corrugated or accordian-shaped panel.

6. The fence section of claim 1 wherein the trim is an extruded, flexible, plastic member.

7. The fence section of claim 1 wherein the trim is a metallic member.

8. The fence section of claim 1 including a stiffening member disposed within the trim body portion.

9. A fence assembly having fence panels that may pivot under the force of wind, thus allowing wind flow through the fence, comprising: at least a fence panel generally in vertical position and having an upper end and a lower end; at least a vertical fence post; means coupling the panel to the posts; means allowing the panel to pivot about at least one end of the panel in response to wind; and, gravity means for restoring the panel to its vertical position.

10. The fence assembly of claim 9 wherein the fence is pivotable about its lower end.

11. The fence assembly of claim 11 wherein the gravity means is a counterweight linked to the panel and suspended within the fence post.

12. The fence assembly of claim 9 wherein the fence is pivotable about its upper end.

13. The fence assembly of claim 9 including means for locking the panels in position.

14. The fence assembly of claim 9 wherein the panel comprises a plurality of joined-together sheets.

15. The fence section of claim 9 wherein the panel comprises a corrugated or accordian-shaped panel.

16. The fence assembly of claim 9 including at least a trim disposed along an end and having open ends therein and a body portion extending over and covering the panel end and secured to the panel, and, a pin extending from the fence post into the trim opening, thereby permitting panel pivoting action.

17. The fence assembly of claim 16 wherein the trim is an extruded, flexible plastic member.

18. The fence assembly of claim 16 wherein the trim is a metallic member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to fencing such as the type that might be used in suburbs for enclosing one's property and, in particular, to a type of fence assembly that will allow for wind passage therethrough without sacrificing privacy.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Especially in areas where strong winds frequently occur, fence rigidity is required. Otherwise in a strong wind the fence will not be able to withstand the force of the wind and be knocked over. Even where the fences are rigid, a very strong wind can cause damage to the fence and as the fence ages even less force is required to damage the fence and blow it over.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, an object of the invention is a fence that will allow passage of wind therethrough without sacrifice of privacy.

Another object is such a fence that is lightweight and extremely flexible in terms of dimensions and color selection.

Still another object is such a fence that is easy to install, remove, replace and store.

A further object of the invention is to enable a ‘snap-together’ assembly for a manufacturing cost reduction.

A still further object is to enable greater post spacing through the use of longer, corrugated fence panels or equivalent.

These and other objects, features and advantages are accomplished in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, one illustrative embodiment of which comprises a fence assembly made up of a plurality of fence sections. Each section is made up of panels with top, bottom and side edges and front and rear surfaces. Slots are spaced from and milled into the panels along one of the sets of edges. A pair of trim extends over and covers the set edges and each trim has projections that snap or slide into the front and rear slots. The fence sections are coupled pivotably to fence posts such that the panels may pivot, under force of wind, about either their top or bottom end. The panels are restored to generally vertical position by the force of gravity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description and accompany drawing, wherein:

FIG. 1A is a front elevation of a portion of a fence assembly, constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, including a gate;

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of the backside of a portion of an alternate fence assembly, showing the effects of wind action on the assembly's panels and where the panels pivot about their top length;

FIG. 1C is a perspective view of the backside of another alternate embodiment, showing the effects of wind action on the fence assembly's panels where the panels pivot about their bottom length;

FIG. 2A is a fragmentary, perspective view of a main body or panel made up of standard house-siding or a single sheet equivalent, with mill cuts or notches across the top and bottom of each siding piece or sheet;

FIG. 2b is a fragmentary, perspective view of a trim piece with an insertable cover for the pivot pins entrance slot;

FIG. 2C is a side sectional, fragmentary view, showing a top trim and a bottom trim snapped onto a piece of siding;

FIG. 3A is a fragmentary, side view of a portion of a main body or panel made up of siding, to which has been added a vertical trim for support for a hinge;

FIG. 3B is a top view of FIG. 3A;

FIG. 3C is a fragmentary side view of the post in FIG. 1A in which pins are located for the gate's pivot;

FIG. 3D is a top view of FIG. 3C;

FIG. 3E is a top, fragmentary view showing the latch assembly of the FIG. 1A embodiment secured on the pin embedded in the vertical post;

FIGS. 3F and 3G are fragmentary perspective views showing the positioning and relationship of the post, pin, latch, vertical trim piece and siding;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, side view of a portion of the FIG. 1C embodiment showing the makeup of the counterweight assembly when the pivoting action is along the bottom length of the fence assembly;

FIG. 5A is a fragmentary, perspective view of the FIG. 1C embodiment where pivoting is about the bottom length and showing the effect of the wind's force on the fence assembly panels;

FIG. 5B is a fragmentary, perspective view of the base of the FIG. 1B embodiment and when locking the fence assembly in closed position;

FIG. 5C is a perspective view of one of the panels in the FIG. 1A or 1B embodiments where the pivoting is about the top length showing the effect of the wind's force on the panel and further showing the fence assembly post embedded in concrete;

FIG. 6A is a perspective of a snap-on tool used toward the bottom of adjacent posts for post placement;

FIG. 6B is a perspective of a pole-spacing tool used simultaneously with the tool depicted in FIG. 6A, but at the tops of the posts;

FIG. 7A is a fragmentary, perspective view showing the use of the main body or panel as a window shutter;

FIG. 7B is a fragmentary, perspective view showing the use of the main body or panel as a low barrier like a hedge;

FIG. 8A is a fragmentary, exploded view of an alternate embodiment for supporting the main bodies or panels on the posts;

FIG. 8B is a fragmentary, perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the trim used when no pivoting action of the panel is contemplated;

FIG. 9A is a cross-sectional view of the trim showing the pin entrance at the bottom when pivoting action is at the bottom length of the panel;

FIG. 9B is a cross-sectional view of the trim showing the pin entrance at the top when pivoting action is at the top length of the panel;

FIG. 10A is a fragmentary view showing corrugated panels with milled slots;

FIG. 10B is a sectional view of a side trim adjacent to a fence post;

FIG. 10C is a top view of the end of a corrugated panel;

FIG. 10D is a perspective view of a locking bracket for capturing the side trims on both sides of the fence post of FIG. 10B when wind-through pivoting is not wanted;

FIG. 10E is a nut for placement on the top of the fence post of FIG. 10B;

FIG. 10F is a fragmentary side view of the fence post of FIG. 10B sandwiched between the trims of two adjacent corrugated panels;

FIG. 11A is a fragmentary side view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention showing the fence post, upper pivot attachment and lower trim lock;

FIG. 11B is a fragmentary perspective view of the upper trim and panel for attachment to the fence post attachment depicted in FIG. 11A; and,

FIG. 11C is a fragmentary side view of the upper and lower trim and panel of FIG. 11B;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1A of the drawing, one embodiment of the novel fence assembly 10A of the present invention is seen as including vertical posts 11, a plurality of main bodies or panels 12, and top 13 and bottom 14 trim. In this embodiment the left-most and right-most panels 12 are secured to the vertical posts 11 (in a manner to be explained hereafter) so as to pivot about the top, while the middle panel is hinged at 15 and provided with a latch 16 so as to function as a gate within the fence assembly 10A.

The posts 11 can be of any cross-section, e.g., round, square, rectangular, etc. and can be made of wood, steel, plastic, etc., so long as they are rigid.

Each panel 12 may be a complete sheet or, as illustrated, a plurality of joined-together sheets as, for example, like multiple sheets of vinyl house siding, and made in different lengths, widths and color, depending on the site and application.

Each panel 12 is provided with an extruded, upper 13 and lower 14 trim that extends over and covers the top and bottom edges of the panels 12. The trims are affixed to the panel, either by screwing or, when spring is provided to the trim, by snapping or sliding the trims onto the edges of the panel as will be explained hereafter. The trims 13,14 are of a flexible plastic material. In areas where strong winds frequently occur, the need for fence rigidity is required. The trims 13,14 provide rigidity as well to the panel. The trim is made of ABS, vinyl or equivalent. Optionally, the bottom trim 14 can be omitted.

The top trim 13 is also used in securing the panel 12 to the posts 11, but in a manner to allow, with the bottom part of the panel 12 unsecured, the panel to pivot about its top length.

With the panels 12 thus mounted, the fence assembly allows the left and right panels 12 to pivot under a wind's force and thus allow wind flow through the fence assembly 10A. When the wind subsides, gravitational forces, in this instance the weight of the panels 12, return the panels 12 to their normally vertical position.

The embodiment 10B depicted in FIG. 1B is similar to the embodiment in FIG. 1A, but without a gate so that all panels 12 pivot about their top length. The figure depicts a possible position of the panels 12 due to the effects of a wind's force.

The embodiment 10C differs from the FIGS. 1A and 1B embodiments in that in this embodiment the fence assembly 10C is constructed, in a manner to be explained hereafter, so that the panels 12 pivot about their bottom length. The panels 12 are shown in a possible position due to the effects of a wind's force. When the wind subsides counterweights (not shown in FIG. 1C), suspended within the poles 11 and tied to the top of the panels 12 will return the panels to their normal vertical position.

Each main body or panel 12 may be a complete sheet or, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, a plurality of snapped-together sheets 21 of vinyl house siding, typically of 3/64 inch thickness.

The sheets are mill-cut or notched, typically ⅛ inch deep along the top at 22 and bottom at 23, in both the front and back to form little lips for a snap-on assembly of the upper trim 13 and lower trim 14, rather than necessitating the use of screws to secure the trim to the siding.

To be explained hereafter pivot pins 55 (See FIG. 5C) are press-fit into the vertical posts 11 and then inserted within openings in the trim (93 in FIG. 9B). A removable cover 24 may be press-fit into a slot 25 within lower trim 14. The cover 24 is primarily for aesthetic purposes, but also prevents accidental panel/post disconnect. In the FIG. 5C embodiment, the opposite post has been omitted from the view. It should be understood that only the backside of the top and bottom trim has the openings for the pivoting pins. Also, where house siding is used to form a fence panel, each slotted edge normally used for house attachment must be trimmed for aesthetic value.

In the FIG. 1A embodiment, the middle panel functions as a gate. With the middle panel made up of pieces of siding 21, the adjacent siding alone would be inadequate to support a hinge and latch assembly. In this instance and referring to FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3E, both the right and left edges of the gate panel 12 (in this instance made up of siding 21) are provided with a more substantial vertical trim piece 31 on the order of ⅛ inch thickness that runs the entire length of the siding 21. Hinges 15 are secured to the vertical trim piece 31 by means of rivets or screws 32 that pass through the siding 21. Adjusting screws 17 (FIG. 1A) may be included in the event a skewed condition develops between posts 11 and panel 12.

FIGS. 3C and 3D disclose the post 11 in which two L-shaped pins 34 are embedded and on which the gate can pivot.

FIG. 3E is a top view showing the latch 16 secured on the pole, while FIGS. 3F and 3G show the positioning and relationship of the post 11, its pin 33, latch 16, vertical trim piece 31 and siding 21.

Referring now to FIGS. 1C, 4 and 5A, in this embodiment the fence assembly 10C is constructed so that the panels 12 pivot about their bottom length. In FIG. 4, counterweights 41 are shown suspended within the poles 11 and tied by means of cord 42, as of braided nylon, that passes through a molded pole cap 43 to pins 44 affixed to the upper trim 13 of adjacent panels 12. Pivot pins 45 are inserted within openings in the trim (94 in FIG. 9A) and into the vertical posts 11. In the FIG. 1C embodiment, the fence assembly 10C is shown in a possible position due to the effects of a wind's force. When the wind subsides the counterweights 41 will return the panels 12 to their normal vertical position.

There may be times when you wish to confine a child or pet within a fenced area, or when moderate winds are expected and no wind passage through the fence assembly is needed. In those instances, and referring to FIG. 5B, the fence post 11 is provided with a threaded rivet 51 near ground level. A locking bar 52 is centered in and between two adjacent bottom trim members 14. To lock the fence assembly in closed position, a screw 53 is threaded through the locking bar 52 and fastened to the threaded rivet 51 in the fence post 11. Alternatively, instead of screwing through the locking bar 52 to the post 11, a semi-circular clamp 54, is fastened by means of the locking screw 53 to the threaded rivet 51 in the fence post 11. The locking bar 52 is eliminated.

FIG. 5C discloses a fence post 11 that is embedded in the ground G or concrete, as the case may be. A single panel 12 that pivots about its top length is illustrated. A pin 55 inserted into the post 11 and within the trim 13 supports the panel 12.

To assure consistent, precise pole spacing during installation to very close tolerances, typically six feet, and referring to FIGS. 6A and 6B, after a first post 11 has been installed in a vertical position, a bottom locating tool 61 is snapped on to the first installed post 11 at ground level and the next post 11 is snapped on to the opposite end of tool 61. Tool 61 has a circular opening 62 at each end with a slot 63 extending therefrom so that it can be opened and closed and snapped onto the posts 11.

Referring to FIG. 6B, second top locating tool 64 such as a trim piece with notches 65 is then slid on to the first and next posts 11 on the top ends of the posts 11, thereby maintaining proper spacing at the top ends of the posts 11 as well. The top tool 64 is so constructed that a level 66 may be positioned therein to control the height of the posts 11 as well. With the poles 11 so positioned, cement, gravel, soil or equivalent is packed solidly at the base of the poles 11. After curing of the cement, the tools 61 and 64 are removed.

Thus far the main bodies or panels 12 have been shown in connection with a fence assembly. Alternatively, the panels could be used as shutters (71 in FIG. 7A) or as a low barrier like a hedge (72 in FIG. 7B) anchored with ground stakes 73.

Referring to FIG. 8A, instead of the short pins 55 illustrated in FIG. 5C for support and pivoting of the panels, a single bar 81 passes entirely through the trim 13. Bar 81 is grooved at 82 and fits within a slot 83 at the top of the vertical post 11. Where pivoting is about the bottom, a similar bar may be used.

If one resides in a location where wind velocity is minimal and thus no pivoting action of the fence panels is needed and contemplated, then, referring to FIG. 8B, the trim 91 is provided with a hooked end piece 92 that can be set down in a slot in the vertical post such as the slot shown at 83 in FIG. 8A.

A further alternate embodiment of the fence assembly of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 10A through 10F. Instead of using fence panels that may be of vinyl siding such as shown and described earlier, the fence assembly includes a corrugated or accordian-shaped panel 101. It can give the panel extra thickness and added stiffness than say the panels made up of house siding. This allows one to have much longer panels and wider spacing between fence posts. The panel 101 can be of metal say aluminum, plastic and the like. Added thickness provides more resistance against the wind bending it.

FIG. 10B is a top view of a fence post 102 and trim 103 that fits onto the end of the corrugated panel 101. Trim 103 is provided with projections 104 for snapping into milled slots or notches 105, although the ends could be squared off. FIG. 10C is a side view of a panel 101 showing the notches 105. The trim 103 can be slid or snapped into the slots 105.

In many situations a person may not be concerned with the panel movement caused by the wind forces, in which case a lock 106, as shown in FIG. 10D, can be fitted over the ends of adjacent panels and against the fence post and affixed to the fence post at the base of adjacent panels by means of a screw (not shown).

This embodiment also lends itself to pivoting action of the panels 101. In FIG. 10E is shown a nut 107 having a lower part 108, upper flanges 109,110 and a threaded bore 111 therethrough.

Referring to FIGS. 10E and 10F, the nut 107 is dropped into the post 102, with the flanges 109,110 coming to rest on the top of the post, the bore 111 being positioned transversely of the nut such that the bore is slightly above the top of the post. A bolt 112 is passed trough trim 103, post 102 on both sides, threaded through the bore 111 and locked in place and provides the pivot point for the panels 101.

FIGS. 11A through 110C disclose an alternate embodiment for permitting pivoting of the fence panel, for locking the panels in place and for stiffening the trim.

Referring first to FIG. 11A, the fence post 121 can be a steel post and of smaller diameter than the post in previous embodiments and is provided with extruded holes 122 (one on either side for each adjacent panel and trim). A pivot member 123 with outwardly extending feet 124,125 is attached to the post 121 (on either side) by means of knurled head shoulder screws 126. The figure also depicts a lower trim lock 127 that is attached to the lower part of the post 121 by means of screw 128 threaded through the lock 127 and into the post 121.

FIGS. 11B and 11C show the fence panel 129 and upper trim 130. The walls of the trim are provided with vertical slots 131 into which the feet 124,125 of the pivot 123 snap. The square, upper chamber 132 of the upper trim 130 and the square lower chamber 133 of lower trim 134 trim are provided with tubular stiffening members or rods 135, 136 of square cross-section. The stiffening members 135, 136 are slid into the chambers 132 and 133 to prevent possible bowing during very heavy winds.

The fence assembly designs of the present invention permit thinner flexible materials that can simplify manufacture and provide other advantages such as lightweight and quick interchangeable and removable fence sections and allows for easy storage.

The fence assembly of the present invention is light in construction and can be built at small cost. The top and bottom trims are identical until the pivoting pin slots are added. Both are made as an extrusion with any desired length. When subjected to wind pressure, the fence panels will pivot, relieving the fence assembly of the force of the wind and ensuing damage. Forceful winds passage can occur without the need for large openings and extra cost of heavier construction

The assembly is virtually maintenance-free.

There is extreme design flexibilty that enables custom made fences with a choice of height, width and color.

The fence assembly of the present invention minimizes assembly time and manpower requirements because each fence unit has only three ‘snap together’ components.

The assembly enables a maximum ‘wind thru’ area without fence panel removal.

The assembly uses gravity for automatic fence repositioning after any degree of wind passage.

Each panel is independently removable. No tools are required for installation or removal of panels and there is a ‘lock-down’ ability, when preferred.

When excessive fence lengths are desired with greater fence post spacing, presently marketed corrugated panels used for roofing can be used instead of house siding. The same ‘snap-together’ assembly method can be used or a ‘slide’ attachment of the panel and its trim. Only a wider trim is required with its attachment on each side, and the fence sheets horizontally positioned.

It should be obvious that changes, additions and omissions may be made in the details and arrangement of parts without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter claimed.