Title:
MULTI-CHANNEL CROSS BAR FOR A VEHICLE CARGO MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cargo management system for a motor vehicle. In one form the system includes a pair of side rails adapted to be secured in spaced apart relation to one another within a bed of a pickup truck. A cross bar assembly is supported at its opposite ends to the side rails so as to be suspended above a floor of the bed of the pickup truck. The cross bar assembly includes a cross bar component that has a plurality of parallel arranged channels extending along the length thereof. The channels can each be used to secure various forms of accessory attachments and/or tie down components to the cross bar assembly, thus significantly enhancing the utility of the cross bar assembly. In one form the cross bar component is rectangularly shaped when viewed in cross section, with a separate channel formed on each of the four distinct surfaces of the cross bar component.



Inventors:
Kmita, Gerard J. (Allen Park, MI, US)
Ranka, Noel V. (Canton, MI, US)
Henderson, Brian E. (Fraser, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/735586
Publication Date:
12/13/2007
Filing Date:
04/16/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080232921METHOD AND DEVICE FOR RESTRAINING A CARGO PALLETSeptember, 2008Kanczuzewski et al.
20030044253Holding systemMarch, 2003Vazquez-garcia
20060204347Method and device for stabilizing a vehicle combinationSeptember, 2006Waldbauer et al.
20090208305STRAP ROLLERAugust, 2009Donovan
20090074531Winch AttachmentMarch, 2009Schmidt
20100003099Corner ElementJanuary, 2010Zimmermann
20080044248Marsupial fifth wheel tractorFebruary, 2008Clutterham
20070269283Chassis rackNovember, 2007Klestoff et al.
20080193248Load Lashing DeviceAugust, 2008Lindblad



Primary Examiner:
GUTMAN, HILARY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HARNESS DICKEY (TROY) (Troy, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cargo management system for a motor vehicle, comprising: a pair of side rails adapted to be secured to a body portion of the vehicle so as to extend generally parallel to one another, and in spaced apart relation to one another; a cross bar assembly having a pair of opposing end portions, said end portions being supported from the side rails so that said cross bar assembly is suspended therefrom; said cross bar assembly including a cross bar component having a plurality of generally parallel arranged channels, each of said channels being adapted to accept an external accessory element therein to enable a plurality of said external components to be used with said cross bar component.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said cross bar component comprises a generally rectangular shape with a pair of independent channels that open in directions opposite to one another.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein said cross bar component comprises a generally rectangular shape and includes four independent channels.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein at least one of said channels includes a bottom wall having a hole.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein said channels open in oppositely facing directions.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein said plurality of channels comprises four parallel channels, with a first pair of said channels opening in oppositely facing directions, and a second pair of said channels opening in oppositely facing directions.

7. The system of claim 1, further comprising a tie-down element adapted to be secured to one of said channels.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein each said channel is formed by a bottom wall and a pair of ledges.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein said cross bar component includes an internal channel for providing additional structural strength thereto.

10. A cargo management system for a motor vehicle, comprising: a pair of side rails adapted to be secured to a body portion of the vehicle so as to extend generally parallel to one another, and in spaced apart relation to one another; a cross bar assembly having a pair of opposing end portions, said end portions being supported from the side rails so that said cross bar assembly is suspended therefrom; and said cross bar assembly including a cross bar component having a plurality of generally parallel, co-extensive channels, each of said channels being adapted to accept an external accessory element therein to enable a plurality of said external components to be used with said cross bar component; each said channel being formed by a bottom wall and a pair of ledges that project inwardly towards one another.

11. The system of claim 10, further comprising a tie down element adapted to be secured to one of said channels.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein at least one of said channels includes a bottom wall having a hole for engaging with a pin-like locking element of an external assembly.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein said plurality of channels comprises a pair of channels that open in opposite directions from one another.

14. The system of claim 10, wherein said plurality of channels comprises four channels, a first pair of said four channels opening in oppositely facing directions, and a second pair of said four channels opening in oppositely facing directions.

15. The system of claim 10, wherein said cross bar component further comprises an internal, inaccessible channel for adding structural strength to said cross bar component.

16. The system of claim 10, wherein said cross bar component forms a generally rectangular shape, and said plurality of channels comprises four channels arranged on four sides of said cross bar component.

17. A cross bar component for a vehicle article carrier system, wherein said cross bar component is adapted to be used to support articles thereon and to be suspended at its opposite ends between a pair of support members secured to portions of said vehicle, said cross bar component including: a plurality of parallel, co-extensive channels that face in different directions; and each said channel being formed by a bottom wall and a pair of ledges that project towards one another.

18. The cross bar component of claim 17, further comprising a tie down element adapted to be secured to either of said channels.

19. The cross bar component of claim 17, wherein said plurality of co-extensive channels comprises a plurality of two channels that open in different directions.

20. The cross bar component of claim 17, wherein said plurality of co-extensive channels comprises a plurality of four channels that each open in different directions.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a non-provisional of U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 60/811,654, filed on Jun. 7, 2006, and incorporated by reference into the present application.

FIELD

The present disclosure relates to vehicle cargo management systems, and more particularly to a vehicle cargo management system that employs a cross bar having a plurality of independent channels for accepting a plurality of independent tie down components.

BACKGROUND

Vehicle cargo management systems are used with a wide variety of motor vehicles such as cars, vans, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), etc., to support, or hold stationary, a wide variety of cargo items or accessory attachments (e.g., bicycle racks; ski racks, etc.). Such cargo management systems are often used in the bed of a pickup truck to help support or restrict movement of various types of cargo, but are also frequently employed on the roof portion of a vehicle to support articles above the outer body surface of the vehicle. In either application, the cargo management system often employs a pair of side rails that are fixedly secured in spaced apart, parallel relation to one another. Typically one or more cross bars are secured at their opposite ends to the side rails. The cargo being transported is either supported on, or restrained by, the cross bar(s). Often it is helpful to secure the cargo to the cross bar(s) with tie down straps or cords (e.g., bungee cords or elastic rubber straps) that are secured to the cross bar(s).

It would be highly desirable to provide a cargo management system that makes use of a cross bar that allows quick and easy coupling of a wide variety of accessory attachments or tie-down straps, while still being sufficiently robust to support and/or restrain a wide variety of cargo items that need to be transported. It would further be desirable to provide such a cross bar that can be easily integrated for use with pre-existing article carrier systems with little or no modifications to the side rails of the pre-existing article carrier system.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure relates to a cargo management system for supporting and/or restraining articles that need to be transported on a motor vehicle. While the various embodiments discussed are especially well adapted for use with vehicles such as pickup trucks, the various embodiments are equally well adapted for use with other vehicles such as SUVs, vans, station wagons, etc.

In one embodiment, a cargo management system is disclosed in which a pair of side rails are secured to opposing sidewalls in an interior area of a pickup truck bed. A cross bar assembly is supported at its opposite ends by locking mechanisms that enable the ends of the cross bar assembly to be secured to the side rails. The cross bar assembly has a cross bar component that has a plurality of independent channels that each can be used to accept various accessory elements, such as accessory attachments or tie down components. In one preferred form, the channels extend parallel to one another and along a major portion of the length of the cross bar component. The cross bar assembly is also of sufficiently robust construction so that it can function to either support the weight of various cargo items thereon, or can be used as a bulkhead to restrain large (and/or heavy) items from moving within the pickup truck bed while the pickup truck is moving.

In one particular embodiment, a cross bar is disclosed which is generally rectangularly shaped, when viewed end-wise, and includes parallel arranged channels on all four of its outer surfaces. The channels are able to accept accessory elements such as rotatable tie down components, bicycle racks, ski racks, etc.

Further areas of applicability will become apparent from the description provided herein. It should be understood that the description and specific examples are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

DRAWINGS

The drawings described herein are for illustration purposes only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure in any way.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pickup truck incorporating an embodiment of a cargo management system as described in the present application;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of just the cargo management system;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view in accordance with section line 3-3 in FIG. 2, showing the parallel arrangement of the channels of the cross bar of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the cross bar of FIG. 3 illustrating an accessory attachment component (i.e., a rotatable tie down loop) positioned in one channel of the cross bar; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the cross bar of FIG. 3 that incorporates a plurality of spaced apart holes in at least one of the channels, to enable positive locking engagement of an external support assembly at specific points along the cross bar.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the present disclosure, application, or uses.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a motor vehicle 12 incorporating an embodiment of a cargo management system 10 in accordance with the present disclosure. The System 10 includes a pair of side rails 14,16 that are secured in opposed, facing relation to a corresponding pair of sidewalls 18,20 of a bed 22 of a pickup truck 24. It will be appreciated immediately, however, that the system 10 could just as readily be employed on virtually any other type of motor vehicle. For example, the system 10 could be employed on the roof of a sport utility vehicle (SUV), in the rear interior area of a cargo van, etc. The depiction of the system 10 in the bed 22 of a pickup truck 24 is thus intended merely to represent one implementation of the system 10. The cargo management system 10, by itself, is illustrated in perspective in FIG. 2.

The side rails 14,16 are secured to the sidewalls 18,20 by conventional fasteners (not shown), for example by RIVNUTS®, threaded fasteners or the like. Each side rail 14,16 has at least one channel formed therein, and the illustrated side rails 14,16 in this embodiment each have a pair of co-extending channels 26,28 arranged in vertical fashion. Referring specifically to FIG. 2, the side rails are used to support a cross bar assembly 30. The cross bar assembly 30 has a cross bar component 32 and locking mechanisms 34, 36 at its opposite ends. Locking mechanisms 34,36 engage with one or the other of each channel 26 or 28 in each side rail 14,16 to support the cross bar assembly 30 above a floor 32 of the bed 22.

The locking mechanisms 34,36 may comprise any type of mechanism that allows it to be quickly secured and released from its associated side rail 14 or 16 so that the cross bar assembly 30 can be secured at a desired position along the side rails 14,16, and re-positioned at a new position if needed. Suitable locking mechanisms for use with the cross bar assembly are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,826,766, 5,833,103, 6,068,169 and 6,179,179, all assigned to the assignee of the present application, and all incorporated by reference herein into the present application.

Referring to FIG. 3, an enlarged cross-sectional view of just the cross bar component 32 is shown. The crossbar component 32 in this example is generally rectangularly shaped, but it will be appreciated that other shapes could be used as well (e.g., oval, circular, etc.). The cross bar component 32 includes a plurality of parallel arranged channels 38,40,42,44 that each can be used to enable attachment elements, for example attachment accessories such as bicycle racks, ski racks, etc., or rotatable tie down loops, to be secured to each channel. Channel 38 is formed by a bottom wall 46, side walls 48,50 and ledges 52 that extend perpendicularly from the side walls 48. Channel 40 is formed by the sidewall 50 (which functions essentially as a bottom wall portion) and inwardly turned ledges 54. Channel 42 is formed by a bottom wall 56, portions of sidewalls 48,50 and inwardly extending ledges 58. Channel 44 is formed by sidewall 48 (which functions essentially as a bottom wall portion), and inwardly turned ledges 60. Bottom walls 46 and 56 create a closed off internal, centrally located channel 62 that is not used, but adds to the structural strength and rigidity of the cross bar component 32 without adding significantly to its overall weight. The channels 38,40,42,44 each extend preferably along at least a substantial portion of the length of the cross bar component 32, and more preferably along the entire length thereof. Furthermore, the channels 38,40,42,44 could all be formed so as to have different cross sectional shapes, if needed, to accommodate specific accessory attachment structures or specific types of tie down loops through a method port at the end of each channel. For example, the cross bar component 32 could be formed to have a circular, oval or trapezoidal shape, when viewed end-wise.

The cross bar component 32 is preferably extruded from aluminum or a high strength plastic. However, the cross bar component 32 could potentially be formed from other manufacturing processes, such as roll forming a piece of aluminum stock, or possibly by molding. Both the roll forming and molding processes are likely to present more difficult challenges from a manufacturing standpoint than an extrusion process.

In FIG. 4, the cross bar component 32 is illustrated with an accessory attachment 64 for a bicycle rack, and a rotatable tie down element 66, secured to channels 38 and 40, respectively. Accessory attachment 64 may correspond to a portion of a bicycle carrier, for example a bicycle carrier that is disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,398,091 or 6,866,175, which are hereby incorporated by reference into the present application, or virtually any other form of accessory attachment that is cable of being attached to a channel of an elongated component. Rotatable tie down element 66 may correspond to that which is disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,473,178 and 4,501,385, which are also incorporated by reference into the present application, as well as to any other form of tie down element that can be secured within a channel of an elongated element.

The ability to secure various forms of attachment accessories and/or tie down elements to various channels 38, 40, 42, 44 of the cross bar component 32 significantly enhances the utility of the cross bar component 32. For example, channel 38 can be used to support a bicycle attachment (to thus carry a bicycle on the cross bar component 32) while channel 40 can be used with one or more tie down components (such as one or more of components 64) to secure a different piece of cargo being transported in the bed 22, via a rubber strap, to the cross bar component 32, or possibly even on the cross bar component 32. Since the channels 38,40,42,44 each run preferably along the entire length of the cross bar component 32, the attachment accessories and/or tie down components can be secured at needed points along the cross bar component 32 to best secure the cargo items to the cross bar component 32.

FIG. 5 illustrates an alternative cross bar component 32′ which is identical in construction to cross bar component 32, but also includes pluralities of spaced apart holes 68 and 70 in each of the bottom wall 46 and side wall 50. Holes 68 and 70 enable attachment accessories that include a locking pin to be used with the cross bar component 32′ so that an attachment accessory or tie down component can be even more positively secured at specific points along the length of the tie down component 38.

A particular advantage of the cross bar components 32, 32′ described herein is that they lend themselves well to be retrofitted to existing cargo management and vehicle article carrier systems. The obvious factors that need to be considered are the specific type/style of locking mechanism that need to be incorporated at the opposite ends of the cross bar component 32 or 32, to engage with the specific style or side rails being used, and the overall length of the cross bar assembly 30.

The various forms of the cargo management system described herein thus enable a large plurality of accessory attachments and tie down components to be supported from a cross bar assembly, which significantly enhances the utility of the cargo management system in supporting and/or restraining various forms of cargo.