Title:
Ground anchor system and method for a sports goal and the like
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ground anchor system for anchoring an article, such as a sports goal, bench or the like, to an underlying ground surface. The ground anchor includes an elongate body capable of being embedded within concrete within a hole in the ground and has an anchor and locking plate assembly secured to an upper end thereof. A separate anchor pin is removably securable to the anchor and locking plate assembly. The anchor pin has a knob at one end that is grippable by hand and can be manually placed into a locking position without the use of a separate tool in which the anchor pin is secured to the anchor and locking plate assembly. The anchor pin can also be manually positioned into an unlocking position in which the anchor pin is freely removable from the anchor and locking plate assembly.



Inventors:
Caruso, Anthony (Center Valley, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/319948
Publication Date:
06/28/2007
Filing Date:
12/28/2005
Assignee:
Kwik Goal Ltd. (Quakertown, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D5/74
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FIGUEROA, LUZ ADRIANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOWSON & HOWSON LLP (Blue Bell, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A ground anchor for anchoring an article, such as a sports goal or bench, to an underlying ground surface, comprising: an elongate body having upper and lower ends, said body adapted to being embedded within concrete within the ground; at least one plate secured to said upper end of said elongate body; and an anchor pin removably securable to said at least one plate; said anchor pin having a handle at one end thereof that is grippable by hand, without the use of a separate tool, for manual placement of said anchor pin in a locking position in which said anchor pin is secured to said at least one plate and an unlocking position in which said anchor pin is releasable from said at least one plate.

2. A ground anchor according to claim 1, wherein said anchor pin comprises an elongate shaft with said handle located on said proximal end of said shaft and a locking head on said distal end of said shaft.

3. A ground anchor according to claim 2, wherein said locking head is rotatable within said elongate body about a longitudinal axis of said shaft to position said anchor pin between said locking and unlocking positions.

4. A ground anchor according to claim 3, wherein said anchor pin has a spring mounted on said shaft between said distal and proximal ends for resiliently maintaining said anchor pin in is said locking position.

5. A ground anchor according to claim 4, wherein said spring is a coil spring extending about said shaft.

6. A ground anchor according to claim 4, wherein said at least one plate has a keyway extending transversely therethrough through which said locking head of said anchor pin is extendable.

7. A ground anchor according to claim 6, wherein said at least one plate has an underside having a recess that extends only partially through a thickness of said at least one plate and that is angularly offset from said keyway.

8. A ground anchor according to claim 7, wherein, when said anchor pin is positioned in said locking position, said locking head of said anchor pin is seated within said recess and is maintained within said recess under forces of said spring whereby said locking head is prevented from rotating into alignment with said keyway.

9. A ground anchor according to claim 8, wherein said at least one plate includes a locking plate secured to an underside of a separate anchor plate, wherein said keyway extends through both said anchor plate and said locking plate, and wherein said recess extends only through said locking plate.

10. A ground anchor according to claim 8, wherein said at least one plate is formed as an integral piece.

11. A ground anchor according to claim 8, wherein said ground anchor includes a base plate secured to said lower end of said elongate body, and wherein said elongate body is hollow.

12. A sports goal assembly, comprising: a goal frame defining a goal mouth and supporting a goal net; at least one ground anchor secured in the ground beneath said goal frame; and an anchor pin for removably securing said goal frame to said ground anchor; said anchor pin having a handle at one end thereof that is hand grippable for manually positioning said anchor pin without the use of a separate tool in a locking position in which said goal frame is secured to said ground anchor and an unlocking position in which said goal frame is disconnected from said ground anchor.

13. A sports goal assembly according to claim 12, wherein said anchor pin comprises an elongate shaft with said handle located on said proximal end of said shaft and a locking head on said distal end of said shaft, and wherein said anchor pin is rotatable about a longitudinal axis of said shaft to position said anchor pin between said locking position and said unlocking position.

14. A sports goal assembly according to claim 13, wherein said anchor pin has a spring mounted on said shaft between said distal and proximal ends for resiliently maintaining said anchor pin in said locking position when said anchor pin is positioned in said locking position.

15. A sports goal assembly according to claim 14, wherein said ground anchor includes an anchor plate with a keyway through which said locking head of said anchor pin is extendable, and wherein, when said anchor pin is rotated into said locking position, said locking head of said anchor pin is offset relative to said keyway and is prevented from passing through said anchor plate.

16. A sports goal assembly according to claim 15, wherein said ground anchor includes a locking plate located beneath said anchor plate, said locking plate having a first keyway aligned with said keyway of said anchor plate through which said locking head of said anchor pin is extendable and a second keyway angularly offset relative to said keyway of said anchor plate.

17. A sports goal assembly according to claim 16, wherein, when said anchor pin is positioned in said locking position, said locking head of said anchor pin is seated within said second keyway of said locking plate, is maintained within said second keyway via forces exerted by said spring, and is prevented from rotating out of said locking position via said locking plate.

18. A sports goal assembly according to claim 17, wherein said ground anchor includes an elongate body having an upper end and a lower end, and wherein said anchor plate and locking plate are located at said upper end and a base plate is secured to said lower end.

19. A sports goal assembly according to claim 18, wherein said body of said ground anchor is embedded within concrete within the ground beneath said goal frame.

20. A sports goal assembly according to claim 17, wherein said goal frame has at least one horizontal rail section that extends along and parallel to the ground and that has at least one slot through which said locking head and shaft of said anchor pin is extendable and in which said shaft of said anchor pin is rotatable about said longitudinal axis of said anchor pin.

21. A method of removably anchoring a sports goal frame to an underlying ground surface, comprising the steps of: positioning a section of goal frame over a ground anchor embedded within the ground; grasping a knob-shaped end of a proximal end of an anchor pin by hand and inserting a distal end of the anchor pin through a slot in the goal frame and through a keyway in a plate of the ground anchor such that a spring extending about a shaft of the anchor pin is compressed between the proximal end of the anchor pin and the goal frame; rotating the anchor pin about the longitudinal axis of the anchor pin so that the distal end of the anchor pin is aligned with a recess formed on an underside of the plate; and releasing the anchor pin to permit the spring to expand and cause the distal end of the anchor pin to be seated and captured within the recess.

22. A method according to claim 21, further comprising the steps of grasping the knob-shaped end of the anchor pin, exerting a downward force thereon to compress the spring, and thereafter, rotating the anchor pin such that the distal end is aligned with the keyway for removal of the anchor pin from the ground anchor.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a ground anchoring system for anchoring sports goals, benches and the like to an underlying ground surface, and more particularly, to a system and method for removably anchoring sport goals and the like manually without the use of separate tools.

Various structures, such as sport goal frames, benches, and the like require anchoring to an underlying ground surface for safety and other reasons. For example, the frames of soccer goals require anchoring to the underlying ground surface to prevent the goals from accidentally tilting over and causing injury to players or other persons located nearby. Typically, such systems utilize threaded bolts, nuts, or like fasteners to secure goal frames to anchors sunk within the ground. Such systems require the use of wrenches or other tools to connect or disconnect the goal frames to and from the anchors.

Examples of ground anchors for sport goals are provided by U.S. Pat. No. 6,082,697 issued to Grunfield; U.S. Pat. No. 6,808,463 B1 issued to Stockwell, III; U.S. Pat. No. 4,913,428 issued to Nauman; U.S. Pat. No. 5,820,497 issued to Pena; U.S. Pat. No. 5,661,933 issued to DeJonghe; U.S. Pat. No. 5,902,195 issued to Pavonetti; U.S. Pat. No. 2,020,158 issued to Oakes et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,651,551 issued to Ferrara et al. and Japanese Patent Application Publication No. JP 2003-144595. In addition, examples of other anchoring devices are provided by U.S. Pat. No.: 1,089,842 issued to Johnson; U.S. Pat. No. 2,490,355 issued to Hubbard; U.S. Pat. No. 3,778,944 issued to Easley; U.S. Pat. No. 4,634,120 issued to Hall; U.S. Pat. No. 5,186,119 issued to Hlavin; U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,857 issued to Gray; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,767,296 B1 issued to Johnson.

Although the above referenced ground anchors, sport goals, and methods of anchoring disclosed in the above referenced patents may be satisfactory for their intended purposes, there is a need for a ground anchor system enabling the attachment/removal of various articles to and from a ground anchor in a manner requiring a minimum of time, effort, skill and labor. Sport goals, benches and the like should be securable to, and removable from, the ground anchors without the need of wrenches or other tools. In addition, preferably the ground anchor system should be resistant to damage caused by weathering or like forces which tend to complicate the task of applying and/or removing fasteners.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention, a ground anchor for anchoring an article, such as a sports goal or bench, to an underlying ground surface is provided. The ground anchor includes an elongate body capable of being embedded within concrete within a hole in the ground and has an anchor and locking plate assembly secured to an upper end thereof. A separate anchor pin is removably securable to the anchor and locking plate assembly. The anchor pin has a handle, or knob, at one end thereof that is grippable by hand without the use of a separate tool and can be manually placed into a locking position in which the anchor pin is secured to the anchor and locking plate assembly and an unlocking position in which the anchor pin is removable from the anchor and locking plate assembly.

Preferably, the anchor pin has an elongate shaft on which a spring extends between the knob on a proximal end of the shaft and a locking head, or key, on a distal end of the shaft. The anchor and locking plate assembly has a keyway that extends transversely therethrough and a recess on the underside thereof that extends only partially through a thickness of the anchor and locking plate assembly. The keyway permits passage of the locking head of the anchor pin therethrough when the locking head is in proper alignment with the keyway. The recess is angularly offset from the keyway so that, when the anchor pin is positioned in the locking position, the locking head of the anchor pin is seated and captured within the recess and is maintained within the recess under the force of the spring. This prevents the locking head from unintentionally rotating into alignment with the keyway. The anchor pin is manually removed by pressing down on the knob to extend the locking head out of the recess and turning the anchor pin so that the locking head is aligned with the keyway for removal therethrough.

According to other aspects of the present invention, a sports goal assembly including a ground anchor and a method of securing a goal frame to a ground anchor and disconnecting the goal frame therefrom are provided. Both the goal assembly and method utilize an anchor pin that can be positioned into locking and unlocking positions without the use of a separate tool.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention should become apparent from the following description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is partially cut-away elevation view of an anchoring system and sports goal frame according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of an anchor pin and anchor and locking plate assembly according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the anchoring system and sports goal frame of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view along line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view along line 5-5 of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view along line 6-6 of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The anchoring system of the present invention is useful in securing sport goal frames, park benches, picnic tables, and like structures to an underlying ground surface. For example, a soccer goal 10 is shown in the drawings. The soccer goal 10 should be anchored to the surface 12 of the playing field to prevent the goal from accidentally tilting over and injuring nearby players or other persons.

A typical soccer goal 10 has a frame 14 including goal posts 16 and a crossbar (not shown) extending therebetween that together define a goal mouth. Soccer goals 10 also include other framing elements to support the goal net (not shown) which extends rearward from the goal mouth. For example, the frame 14 can include arm assemblies 18 that extend from the rear 20 of the goal posts 16. Each of the arm assemblies 18 may include a lower horizontal rail 22 that extends along and substantially parallel to the underlying ground surface 12. The rails 22 may have slots 24 through which fasteners can be extended to secure the soccer goal 10 to a ground anchor or the like. Alternatively, brackets (not shown) or the like which extend about the rails 22 can provide slots for fasteners.

Ground anchors are typically installed within holes 26 which are thereafter filled with concrete 28. Typically, the location of each ground anchor is determined and a hole of about a minimum diameter of 24 inches and 20 to 36 inches deep is dug into the ground. With respect to a soccer goal, typically a pair of ground anchors is utilized on each arm assembly 18 in the arrangement shown in FIG. 1. An anchor is placed in each hole 26 so that the upper surface of the anchor is generally flush with the ground surface 12 surrounding the hole. Thereafter, the holes are filled with concrete 28 embedding the anchors therein. After the concrete cures, a soccer goal 10 can be aligned with the ground anchors and attached thereto.

A ground anchor 30 according to the present application includes an elongate body 32 that is substantially hollow at least adjacent an upper end 34 thereof. The body 32 projects from a base plate 36 located at a lower end 38 of the elongate body 32. The base plate 36 permits the ground anchor to be self-supported in an upright position in a hole prior to the pouring of concrete in the hole. The upper end 34 of the elongate body 32 has an anchor and locking plate assembly 40 which can be manufactured as an integral piece, or can be the assembly of two separately manufactured plates. Preferably, the elongate body 32, base plate 36, and anchor and locking plate assembly 40 are made of steel and are welded together prior to use.

As stated above, the anchor and locking plate assembly 40 extends generally flush with the surrounding ground surface 12 or playing field. Preferably, the assembly 40 includes an anchor plate 42 that has an upper surface 44 that is flush with the ground surface 12 and that has a centrally-located keyway 46 extending transversely therethrough. In the illustrated embodiment, the keyway 46 is an elongate slot with rounded ends. By way of example, the steel anchor plate 42 can be about 3 inches by about 3 inches with a thickness of about 0.375 inch and with a keyway 46 of about 1.125 inches long by about 0.4 inch wide. Of course, other dimensions and materials can be used for the anchor plate 42.

A locking plate 48 is located underneath the anchor plate 42. The locking plate 48 has a first keyway 50 which is substantially identical to the keyway 46 of the anchor plate 42 and which can be aligned therewith to form a continuous keyway through the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. In addition, the locking plate 48 includes a second keyway 52 angularly offset from the first keyway 50. In the illustrated embodiment, the second keyway 52 extends substantially perpendicular to the first keyway 50 thereby forming a generally “+” shaped aperture through the locking plate 48. As discussed in greater detail below, the second keyway 52 of the locking plate 48 provides a recess, or pocket, on an underside of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. By way of example, the steel locking plate 48 can be about 3 inches by about 3 inches with a thickness of about 0.25 inch, and each keyway, 50 and 52, can be about 1.125 inches long by about 0.4 inch wide. Of course, other dimensions and materials can be used for the locking plate 48.

The above referenced ground anchor 30 is intended for use with a separate anchor pin 54 having a shaft 56 with proximal and distal ends, 58 and 60. A handle, or knob, 62 is secured on the proximal end 58 of the shaft 56 and permits an individual to grip the anchor pin 54 by hand and manipulate it between locking and unlocking positions manually without the use of tools. The distal end 60 of the shaft 56 has a key, lug, or locking head 64 that is sized to fit through the keyways, 46 and 50, of the anchor and locking plates, 42 and 48. For example, the locking head 64 can have a generally arrowhead-shape with a length of about 0.75 inch, a width of about 0.775 inch, and a thickness of about 0.375 inch. Of course, other dimensions and shapes can be utilized.

A spring 66 is fixed about the shaft 56 of the anchor pin 54 for use in resiliently maintaining the anchor pin 54 in a locking position as discussed below in greater detail. Preferably, the spring 66 is a coil spring and is located between a washer 68 and the handle 62, or between a pair of washers. In use, the locking head 64 of the anchor pin 54 is inserted through the keyways, 46 and 50, of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. The spring 66 must be compressed to permit the locking head 66 to be extended completely through the keyways, 46 and 50, and underneath the underside 70 of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. In this position, the anchor pin 54 can be rotated about a longitudinal axis “X” extending through the shaft 56 of the anchor pin 54. Upon rotation, the locking head 64 is no longer aligned with the keyways, 46 and 50, and thus is captured beneath the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. However, to ensure that the locking head 64 does not accidentally become aligned with the keyways, 46 and 50, the locking head 64 is aligned with the second keyway, or recess, 52. In this position, the spring 66 applies a force to urge the locking head 64 within the recess 52 and to maintain the locking head 64 therein. See FIGS. 3 and 4. In this position, the locking head 64 is prevented from rotation and is prevented from inadvertent alignment with the keyways, 46 and 50.

When in the locking position, the anchor pin 54 can be manually removed from the ground anchor 30 by manually gripping the handle 62 and by applying a downward force thereon to extend the locking head 64 of the anchor pin 54 entirely below the underside 70 of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40 and out of the recess 52. Thereafter, the anchor pin 54 can be turned such that the locking head 64 is aligned with the keyways, 46 and 50. The anchor pin 54 can then be removed from the ground anchor 30.

A method of assembling a sports goal or the like according to the present invention includes aligning the sports goal 10 or the like with ground anchors 30 set in the ground surface 12. Preferably, a slot 24 extending through a base rail 22 of the sports goal 10 or the like, or an aperture in a bracket secured to the base rail, is aligned with the keyways, 46 and 50, of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. The knob 62 of the anchor pin 54 is grasped by hand to manipulate the locking head 64 of the anchor pin 54 through the base rail 22, or bracket, and into the keyways, 46 and 50, of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. The person applies a downward force on the knob 62 to compress the spring 66 and locate the locking head 64 underneath the underside 70 of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. The person then turns the knob 62 about a quarter turn to displace the locking head 64 of the anchor pin 54 out of alignment with the keyways, 46 and 50, and into alignment with the recess formed by the second keyway 52 of the locking plate 48. As the anchor pin 54 is released, the spring 66 urges the locking head 64 to seat within the recess. This places the anchor pin 54 in the locking position and prevents the locking head 64 from unintentional rotation into alignment with the keyways, 46 and 50. The washer 68, spring 66, and knob 62 extend above the sports goal rail 22 and prevent movement of the rail 22 relative to the ground anchor 30. See FIG. 1.

The anchor pin 54 can be manually moved from the locking position to an unlocking position in which the anchor pin 54 can be removed from the ground anchor 30 and rail 22 of the sports goal 10 or the like. The knob 62 of the anchor pin 54 is grasped by hand and pressed downwardly to compress the spring 66 and to extend the locking head 64 below the underside 70 of the anchor and locking plate assembly 40. Thereafter, the anchor pin 54 is turned until the locking head 64 is aligned with the keyways, 46 and 50. The anchor pin 54 is then removed from the ground anchor 30 and from the sports goal rail 22.

While a preferred ground anchor, sports goal assembly, and method have been described in detail, various modifications, alterations, and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the anchor, assembly, and method according to the present invention as defined in the appended claims.