Title:
Supporting construction of concrete slopes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Novel support beams useful in the construction of concrete slopes are provided. The support beams include a straight body section having a support extension attached at one or both ends of the body section. During construction of a concrete slope, the body section of a support beam maintains an angled position substantially equal to the desired angle of the concrete slope being constructed. The support beams can withstand the weight of the concrete slope during construction and can be removed and reused after the concrete has attained sufficient strength for the concrete slope to be self-supporting. Support beams can be attached in series to provide a long structure supporting the construction of larger concrete slopes.



Inventors:
Hufnagel, Steven (Fowler, MI, US)
Carignan, Dennis (Flint, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/506236
Publication Date:
12/13/2007
Filing Date:
08/18/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C3/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SAFAVI, MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bruce M. Kanuch (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A support beam for constructing a concrete slope, comprising: a straight body section having a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and a support extension attached to the first end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope.

2. The support beam of claim 1, wherein the support extension forms an obtuse angle with the body section.

3. The support beam of claim 1, wherein the support extension is in the shape of a hook.

4. The support beam of claim 1, wherein the body section has an adjustable length.

5. The support beam of claim 1, wherein the body section and the support extension are made from aluminum.

6. A support beam for constructing a concrete slope, comprising: a straight body section having a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; a first support extension attached to the first end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the first support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and a second support extension attached to the second end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the second support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope.

7. The support beam of claim 6, wherein at least one support extension forms an obtuse angle with the body section to which the at least one support extension is attached.

8. The support beam of claim 7, wherein both support extensions form an obtuse angle with the body sections to which they are attached.

9. The support beam of claim 6, wherein at least one of the support extensions is in the shape of a hook.

10. The support beam of claim 6, wherein the body section has an adjustable length.

11. The support beam of claim 6, wherein the body section and the support extensions are made from aluminum.

12. A structure for supporting the construction of a concrete slope, comprising: a first support beam having: a straight body section that has a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and a support extension attached at an obtuse angle to the second end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and a second support beam having: a straight body section that has a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and a support extension attached at an obtuse angle to the second end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, wherein the first end of the second support beam is attached to the support extension of the first support beam in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope.

13. The structure of claim 12, wherein the body sections and the support extensions are made from aluminum.

14. The structure of claim 12, wherein the body section of the first support beam, the second support beam, or both, has an adjustable length.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/804,133; filed Jun. 7, 2006; entitled “Supporting Construction of Concrete Slopes;” the entirety of which provisional application is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the construction of concrete slopes. More particularly, the present invention relates to support beams useful in constructing concrete slopes, including concrete stairways, concrete ramps, and other sloping concrete structures, such as concrete structures for supporting auditorium and stadium seating.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Generally, during the construction of concrete slopes, including concrete stairways, concrete ramps, and other sloping concrete structures, such as concrete structures for supporting auditorium and stadium seating, a support structure is needed to support the concrete slope until the concrete has attained sufficient strength for the concrete slope to be self-supporting. Presently, concrete slopes are nearly all formed using support structures made from lumber that is cut to fit each application. This lumber, which is sometimes referred to as wood joists, frequently gets damaged after multiple uses, and needs to be replaced. Additionally, not all concrete slopes are the same length. For example, the flights of stairs in the same stair tower are frequently not all the same length. Using wood joists as is currently used in the art, can require shorter joists to be disposed of and new wood joists bought and built up to construct a longer set of wood joists. Having to dispose of and replace wood joists is becoming an increasingly significant issue as the price of wood and labor continues to rise. There is also increasing pressure on construction projects to reduce the amount of material that is sent to land fills.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with principles of the invention, novel support beams for use in constructing concrete slopes are disclosed. Generally, support beams of the present invention include a straight body section and a support extension at one or both ends of the body section. During construction of a concrete slope, the body section of a support beam maintains an angled position substantially equal to the desired angle of the concrete slope being constructed. The support beams can withstand the weight of the concrete slope during construction and can be removed and reused after the concrete has attained sufficient strength for the concrete slope to be self-supporting.

In a first aspect, the present invention embodies a support beam for constructing a concrete slope, comprising: 1) a straight body section having a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and 2) a support extension attached to the first end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope. In a second aspect, the present invention embodies a support beam for constructing a concrete slope comprising: 1) a straight body section having a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; 2) a first support extension attached to the first end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the first support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and 3) a second support extension attached to the second end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the second support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope. In a third aspect, the present invention embodies a structure for supporting the construction of a concrete slope, comprising: 1) a first support beam having: a) a straight body section that has a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and b) a support extension attached at an obtuse angle to the second end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and 2) a second support beam having: a) a straight body section that has a first-end and a second-end, the body section being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope; and b) a support extension attached at an obtuse angle to the second end of the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, the support extension being made from a material able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope, wherein the first end of the second support beam is attached to the support extension of the first support beam in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and further advantages of this invention may be better understood by referring to the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like numerals indicate like structural elements and features in the various figures. The drawings are not meant to limit the scope of the invention. For clarity, not every element may be labeled in every figure. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates a support beam of the present invention having a fixed-length body section and two support extensions facing away from each other.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the support beams of FIG. 1 being utilized in construction of concrete stairways.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the support beams of FIG. 1 being utilized in construction of concrete stairways.

FIG. 4 shows support beams of the present invention having an adjustable-length body section and a single support extension.

FIG. 5 shows a close-up perspective view of how support beams of FIG. 4 can be attached to each other.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with principles of the invention, novel support beams for use in constructing concrete slopes are disclosed. A concrete slope can be any sloping concrete structure, including concrete ramps, concrete stairways, and concrete structures supporting seating such as is found in auditoriums and stadiums, for example. Generally, during the construction of concrete slopes, a support structure is needed to support the concrete slope until the concrete has attained sufficient strength for the concrete slope to be self-supporting. After the concrete slope becomes self-supporting, the support structure can be removed and reused.

Generally, support beams of the present invention include a straight body section and a support extension at one or both ends of the body section. The body section is a straight section of support beam that may have a fixed length or an adjustable length. The body section has a first end and a second end. At least one end of the body section has a support extension attached to it. The support extensions bear the brunt of the weight exerted on the support beams by the concrete slopes during the use of the beams in constructing the concrete slopes. Accordingly, a support extension must be attached to the body section in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope. That is, a support extension must be attached to the body section in a manner sufficiently secure to prevent the support extension from inadvertently detaching from the body section when the support beams are used in supporting concrete slopes during the construction of the concrete slopes. Support extensions can be in the form, for example, of a short beam section extending from the body at an angle as shown herein. Alternately, a support extension may be in the shape of a hook, a wedge, or any other shape that allows the body section of the support beam, during the support beam's use in constructing concrete slopes, to maintain a sloped or angled position having and angle substantially equal to the desired angle of the concrete slope.

The body section and support extensions should be made of a material that can withstand the weight of a concrete slope during construction. That is, the body sections and support extensions must not be crushed, must not break, and must not bend significantly while exposed to the weight of a concrete slope during the construction of the concrete slope. In one preferred embodiment, the body section and support extension(s) are made of aluminum, but it is herein contemplated that the support beams may be made of other materials as well, such as steel or a composite material.

It is herein contemplated that support beams of the present invention can be manufactured with the support extensions being continuous with the body section. In these embodiments, support extensions do not need to be attached to the body section because they are attached by virtue of forming one continuous piece with an end of the body section. Alternately, support beams of the present invention can be manufactured by starting with a straight beam (i.e., the body section) made of aluminum, for example, and attaching at least one support extension to an end of the body section. Support beams of the present invention may be constructed by welding or bolting, for example, a support extension onto a body section. Attaching a support extension to a body section using means, such as bolting, which can be loosened between uses, can provide means to adjust the angle that a support extension makes with the body section. Adjusting the angle of a support extension between uses in this manner can facilitate using a support beam at a different angle of slope during the next use. Support extensions may be of a fixed length or may have an adjustable-length.

In embodiments of the present invention, preferred because of their ease of manufacture, support beams have been effectively produced by attaching one or two support extensions onto the ends of a straight length beam as explained above. In these embodiments, a first support extension is attached to the first end of the body section, forming an angle with the body. A second support extension may be attached to the second end of the body, also forming an angle with the body. A support extension may extend outward away from the body section or may extend inward toward the body section, depending on the intended application of the support beam. If a support extension extends outward away from the body in a manner forming an obtuse angle with the body, the support extension may be referred to herein as facing away from the body. If a support beam has two support extensions extending outward in this manner, the support extensions may be referred to herein as facing away from each other. If a support beam has one support extension extending outward from the body and another support extension extending inward, they may be referred to. herein as facing in the same direction. If a support beam has two support extensions extending inward toward the body, they may be referred to herein as facing each other.

Typically, when a support beam has a support extension at each end of the body section, the two support extensions will be substantially parallel to each other. However, this configuration is not required. In most applications, the first support extension and the second support extension will be substantially parallel and, therefore, form substantially identical angles with the body section. In this manner, when the support extensions are positioned so as to be parallel to a plane that is itself parallel to the surface of the earth, the body section will form a sloped support beam upon which a concrete slope can be constructed. In one embodiment, this formed slope is from about 35 degrees to about 40 degrees.

FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a support beam 100 in accordance with the present invention. In FIG. 1, the body section 102 of the support beam 100 is a fixed-length body section having two support extensions 104 and 106, facing away from each other. The length of the body section 102 is about 10 feet and 6 inches in length. Embodiments of the present invention having two support extensions facing away from each other are particularly useful in constructing concrete stairways, wherein the distance between two stairway landings on successive floors can be spanned with a single support beam. Once landing support framings are set in place at correct elevations, the support beams can be set and anchored in place by anchoring one support extension of a support beam to a landing support at a lower elevation and anchoring the other support extension to a landing support at a higher elevation. The support extensions can be anchored in any way known in the art. When the support extensions are anchored to the landing support framing, they will preferably be substantially (but not necessarily exactly) parallel to the landing support framing. When the beams are set and anchored in place, the body sections of the beams will form a slope and a surface can be created on top of the body sections of the support beams. This surface can be created in the same manner that such surfaces are presently created in the art. For example, this surface can be created by placing a sheet of plywood on top of the body sections of the support beams, creating a plywood deck. The plywood deck can be attached to the support beams in any manner suitable to keep the plywood deck immobile during the construction of the concrete slope. Once this surface is in place, construction of a concrete slope can continue as it would normally according to methods known in the art. After the constructed concrete slope becomes self-supporting, the support structure, including the support beams can be removed and reused in constructing other concrete slopes.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate how support beams having two support extensions facing away from each other, such as the support beam 100 described above, can be used in the construction of concrete stairways. FIG. 2 is a side view 200 of support beams 100 being utilized in construction of concrete stairways. FIG. 3 is a perspective view 300 of support beams 100 being utilized in construction of concrete stairways. FIG. 2 shows two stairways being constructed. The construction of the first stairway is supported using a first plurality of support beams 100 with each support beam 100 having a first support extension 106 anchored to a first landing framing 202 and a second support extension 104 anchored to a second landing framing 204. The construction of the second stairway is supported using a second plurality of support beams 100 with each support beam 100 having a first support extension 106 (not shown) anchored to the second landing framing 204 and a second support extension 104 (not shown) anchored to a third landing framing 206. During construction, the higher-elevated landing framings 204, 206 are supported by I-beams 208, which are held in place by scaffolding 210.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view 300 of support beams 100 being utilized in construction of concrete stairways. Similar to FIG. 2, FIG. 3 also shows two stairways being constructed. The two higher-elevated landing framings are supported by I-beams 308 and scaffolding 310. Once the support beams 100 are in place and anchored to landing framings, a surface is created on top of the support beams 100 and the landing framings. This surface can be created, for example, by placing sheets of plywood 312 on top of the support beams 100 and the landing framings. Once this surface is in place, construction of a concrete slope can proceed in any manner already known in the art. After the constructed concrete slope becomes self-supporting, the support structure, including the support beams 100, the I-beams 208, 308, and the scaffolding 210, 310 can be removed and reused in constructing other stairways.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention, the body section of a support beam has an adjustable length. However, it should be noted that having an adjustable-length body section is not a requirement of support beams according to the present invention. Adjustable-length aluminum beams useful as the body section in support beams of the present invention are commercially available. Examples of adjustable-length aluminum beams are sometimes referred to in the construction industry as HICO beams or Aluminum Adjustable Horizontal Shoring. In one embodiment of the present invention, beam pieces about 2 feet in length were cut at an angle on one end and the cut end of the beam pieces were welded to each end of an aluminum body section of adjustable length at an angle of from about 135 degrees to about 140 degrees to form support extensions of the beam that were facing away from each other. The length of the body section in this example was adjusted to about 10.5 feet.

An advantage of using support beams having adjustable-length body sections is that the support beams can be extended or shortened as needed before being anchored to the landing support framing. In this manner, the same support beams can be used in constructing multiple stairways having different lengths. For example, the adjustable-length support beams can be adjusted to a first length (e.g. 10 feet) and used to construct concrete stairways of that length. When the stairways become self-supporting, the same support beams can be removed and readjusted to a second length (e.g., 12 feet) and reused to construct concrete stairways consistent with the readjusted length.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate support beams of the present invention having an adjustable-length body section a single support extension. FIG. 4 shows a side view 400, illustrating how two or more support beams can be connected to form a longer sloped surface. FIG. 5 shows a close-up perspective view 500, illustrating one example method for connecting two support beams. The adjustable-length body sections of these support beams comprise an I-beam portion 402 and a box portion 404. The I-beam portion 402 is partially inserted into the box portion 404. The length of these support beams can be shortened by sliding the I-beam portion 402 further inside the box portion 404 or lengthened by sliding more of the I-beam portion 402 out of the box portion 404. Two support beams can be connected by attaching the I-beam portion 402 of a second support beam to the support extension 406 of a first support beam. One method of attaching two support beams is illustrated in FIG. 5, wherein slotted posts 410 on the support extension 406 of one support beam are inserted into anchor holes 414 on the I-beam portion 402 of another support beam. Wedges 416 are then inserted into the slots in the slotted posts 410 to prevent the slotted posts 410 from inadvertently slipping out of the anchor holes 414 during use of the support beams. One of ordinary skill in the art will readily understand that other methods for connecting two support beams can be used. The means of attachment used can be any means known in the art, including tongue and groove, slotting, gusseting, bolting, and welding. Generally, the two support beams should be attached in a manner able to withstand the weight of the concrete slope being constructed. That is, two support beams should be attached in a manner making the attachment sufficiently strong to prevent the support beams from disconnecting under the weight of a concrete slope during construction of the concrete slope. The manner of attaching the support beams is preferably reversible so that the support beams can be disconnected and reused elsewhere once the constructed concrete slope is self-supporting.

Additional support beams can be connected to the first and second support beams, for example, by attaching the I-beam portion 402 of a third support beam to the support extension 406 of the second support beam, and so on, until the desired number of support beams are connected in series. In this manner, a much longer sloped surface can be created for supporting construction of longer concrete slopes, such as those needed to construct auditorium seating or stadium seating. The support extensions 406 also serve as points where shoring can be used to support the series of support beams. For example, the support beams can be held in place by supporting the support extensions 406 with I-beams and scaffolding in a manner similar to that shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.

The I-beam portions 402 in FIGS. 4 and 5 have been tapered, allowing the tapered end to be positioned flush against the support extension 406 of another support beam and creating a longer sloped surface. This tapered end may be formed in a number of ways. For example, the end of an I-beam portion 402 may be cut at an angle and then have a plate, containing the anchor holes 414, attached onto the cut end of the I-beam portion 402. Alternately, a triangular piece of beam, containing the anchor holes 414, could be attached to an uncut end of the I-beam portion 402 of a support beam. The first support beam in a series will not need to be attached to a another support beam. For example the first support beam may need to be anchored to a floor, for example. Thus, the I-beam portion 402 of the first support beam in a series may be shaped differently than the I-beam portions 402 of other support beams in the series. For example, a support extension may be attached to the end of the I-beam portion 402 and then anchored to the floor.

In accordance with the present invention, novel support beams useful in construction of concrete slopes have been provided. While the present invention has been shown and described herein with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that variations, alterations, changes in form and detail, and equivalents may be made or conceived of without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be assessed as that of the appended claims and by equivalents thereto.