Title:
Modular boat lift canopy assembly and kit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat lift canopy comprises a truss type framework with a base frame that may be rectangular, comprised of side and end horizontal members. The framework is comprised of channel-ridge interlocking extruded components, enabling easy construction with minimal or no welded parts. Joined to the base frame and circumscribed by it is a tie bar frame, which may be discontinuous. A fabric cover snugly encloses the outside of the framework, wrapping around the base frame and secured to the tie tube frame with canopy ties. The boat lift canopy is held above the boat lift by vertical members connecting to supporting legs. The canopy is releasably coupled to the vertical members at the tie tube frame, facilitating adjustable extension of canopy overhang or length by the addition of frame members extending the canopy framework. The framework of the canopy employs a truss design such as Howe kingpost to maximize framework strength to support substantial cantilevered canopy overhangs. Modular, easily assembled components enable provision of the canopy as a kit of components for user assembly.



Inventors:
Basta, Samuel T. (Bellevue, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/890803
Publication Date:
12/27/2007
Filing Date:
08/06/2007
Assignee:
IPO L.L.C. (Bellevue, WA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/121
International Classes:
E04H15/34; B63C5/00; E04H15/42; B63B17/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACKSON, DANIELLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Foster Garvey PC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A framework for boat lift canopies, comprising: a rectangular base comprising: four horizontal members comprising side horizontal members and end horizontal members, each horizontal member with ridged channels along its length; and base corner connectors, connecting parallel side horizontal members at right angles to parallel end horizontal members, the base corner connectors engaging the horizontal members by channel-ridge engagement of the ridged channels in the side horizontal members and the end horizontal members, forming a rectangle of horizontal members; and tie bar connectors, retaining tie bars within the interior of the rectangular base, the tie bar connectors engaging the horizontal members by channel-ridge engagement of the ridged channels in the horizontal members; a ridgepole with a ridged channels along its length; at least one ridgepole center connector engaging the ridgepole by channel-ridge engagement of a ridged channel in the ridgepole; at least one pair of central rafters connected to and depending from each ridgepole center connector; a plurality of ridgepole end connectors engaging the ridgepole by channel-ridge engagement of a ridged channel in the ridgepole; a plurality of lateral rafters connected to and depending from each ridgepole end connector, at least some of which connect to base corner connectors in the rectangular base; a plurality of base side connectors, each engaging a side horizontal member by channel-ridge engagement of a ridged channel in the side horizontal member, each base side connector further connected to a central rafter depending from a ridgepole center connector, each base side connector further connected to two lateral struts depending from a ridgepole end connector; a plurality of upright member connectors, each engaging a horizontal member by channel-ridge engagement; an upright member depending from each upright member connector; and a leg connector affixed to each upright member.

2. A canopy for boat lifts, comprising: a truss type framework comprising a ridgepole having at least one ridged channel; a plurality of ridge connectors engaged with the ridgepole by channel-ridge engagement; a rectangular base comprised of members with ridged channels; a plurality of tie bar connectors engaged with the rectangular base members by channel-ridge engagement, retaining tie bars within the rectangular base; a plurality of base connectors engaged with the rectangular base members by channel-ridge engagement; and a plurality of struts, each strut depending at one end from a ridge connector, the strut connecting at the other end to one of the base connectors; a plurality of upright member connectors engaged with the rectangular base members by channel-ridge engagement; and an upright member depending from each upright member connector.

3. A canopy according to claim 2, wherein the framework is configured as a Howe kingpost truss.

4. A kit of components suited to forming a canopy for boat lifts, comprising: a ridgepole having at least one ridged channel; a plurality of ridge connectors adapted to engage the ridgepole by channel-ridge engagement; a plurality of rectangular base members having ridged channels; a plurality of tie bar connectors adapted to engage the rectangular base members by channel-ridge engagement, the tie bar connectors further adapted to engage tie bars; tie bars; a plurality of base connectors adapted to engage the rectangular base members by channel-ridge engagement; and a plurality of struts, each strut having two ends, one end adapted to connect to a ridge connector, the other end adapted to connect to a base connector.

5. A kit of components according to claim 4, further comprising: a plurality of upright members, and a plurality of upright member connectors adapted to engage the rectangular base members by channel-ridge engagement, the upright member connectors each further adapted to retain an upright member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of a previous application by the inventor of the present invention, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/845,372, titled “Boat Lift Canopy Assembly”, filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office on May 13, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to truss type framework canopies to provide shelter for boats. More particularly, this invention relates to an improved canopy structure mounted above a boat lift and a kit for assembling such a structure.

2. Description of the Related Art

Users of watercraft have need to shelter docked boats from the elements. While boat houses can provide such shelter, they are expensive and often impractical. Users of watercraft also have need to lift their watercraft from the water, for example for maintenance or in preparation for land transportation of the watercraft, along with a need to lower their watercraft into the water, for example for launching or simply for flotation at dock. Answering such needs, the prior art has provided lift devices employed to raise and lower watercraft, such boat lifts further equipped with canopies to protect the watercraft from the elements while the watercraft is docked at or engaged by the lift.

Typical of boat lift canopies in the prior art is the canopy claimed and described by Griffith in U.S. Pat. No. 5,573,026. Framework for such canopies generally comprises prefabricated parts of galvanized steel or aluminum tubing with welded parts. The canopy is assembled as a truss type frame, typically an “A” frame, which is affixed to the boat lift and covered with a water tight and sunlight resistant decorative canopy cover of durable fabric material, such as canvas, which is pulled taught against frame elements and affixed to the frame.

Examining prior art canopy construction in more detail, the Nieman Deluxe Canopy, manufactured by Sierra Manufacturing Company of Monroe, Wash., and the similar canopy manufactured as the Sunstream Deluxe Canopy by Sunstream Corporation of Kent, Wash., may be exemplary. An “A” frame is constructed, comprised of a rectangular base to which are joined a number of rafters angled upward, each joining a ridgepole along its length, the ridgepole thereby forming the apex of the “A” frame. Disposed within the “A” frame toward its base, and joined therewith, is a rectangular tie tube frame, of dimensions somewhat smaller than the dimensions of the “A” frame base, so that the “A” frame base circumscribes the tie tube frame on all sides at a distance of 2 to 6 inches or so. Frame sections may be joined by telescoping engagement, in some cases by way of junction pieces fabricated for such purpose; alternatively, frame sections may be joined by welding.

In any case, in such exemplary prior art, the cover material is affixed to the canopy frame by stretching the material over the entire frame, folding the material over and around the rectangular base of the canopy frame, and then tying the edges of the cover with cord-like tie material, preferably through grommets disposed in the cover material, within the canopy frame to the tie tube frame.

The canopy is fixed above the boat lift on vertical legs rising above the lift, which are most commonly simply extensions of the legs of the boat lift itself. In the prior art, the vertical legs are joined to the canopy at points along members of the rectangular base of the canopy frame. Typically, a hole is drilled in the rectangular base member at each point meeting a leg and a screw or bolt is inserted and secured through such hole into the leg or a junction piece affixed or integral thereto, thereby securing the canopy to the leg. Alternatively, the rectangular base member is welded to the leg or a junction piece for the leg.

Such prior art design of boat lift canopies presents several significant shortcomings. The large number of welded connections in a typical prior art canopy presents risk of metal fatigue and fracture at welded stress points, leading to structural failure. Furthermore, in general there has heretofore been little effort in the art of boat canopy crafting to modularize construction and minimize the number of distinct parts comprising a canopy. Prior art canopy design does not lend itself easily to canopy construction from a kit by unskilled users.

A further limitation of the prior art boat lift canopy is that it is often desirable to change the length of a canopy, as when, for example, the lift is used for a boats of a different length. Further, it is often desirable to adjust the position of the canopy with respect to the legs, adjusting for more or less overhang on one side of the lift depending upon the needs for providing shelter for docked watercraft. As is clear from the foregoing description, however, the prior art canopy is not easily moved with respect to the legs. In the case of canopies secured to the legs by screws, the screws must be removed, new screw holes drilled in the base members, the canopy moved and then the screws reinserted. In the case of canopies secured to the legs by welding, it often is simply not possible at all to move the canopy with respect to the legs after the canopy is attached.

A further limitation of the prior art boat lift canopy is that, in general, it is not designed to maximize the structural integrity possible in truss type framework structures. Long unsupported overhangs, which have become increasingly popular, require that the canopy possess considerable structural strength and rigidity. However, many prior art canopies simply do not possess sufficient strength for long cantilevered overhangs.

What is needed is a form of canopy construction which is less reliant on welded components. What is needed further is a modularized design for canopies enabling construction of a number of canopy designs using a minimum number of different components. What is further needed is a way of mounting the canopy to the legs that permits the canopy to be easily resized or moved with respect to the legs. What is yet further needed is a canopy design with the foregoing features that also maximizes the canopy's structural integrity, so that it is suitable for long overhangs.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a boat lift canopy, comprising a truss type framework with a base frame that may be rectangular, comprised of side and end horizontal members. The framework is comprised of channel-ridge interlocking extruded components, enabling easy construction with minimal or no welded parts. Joined to the base frame and circumscribed by it is a tie bar frame, which may be discontinuous. A fabric cover, which in preferred embodiments is decorative as well as functional, snugly encloses the outside of the framework, wraps around the base frame and is secured to the tie tube frame with canopy ties. The boat lift canopy is held above the boat lift by vertical members, which in some embodiments are vertical extensions of the legs of the boat lift. Advantageously, the canopy is releasably coupled to the vertical members at the tie tube frame, thereby enabling simple adjustment of the position of the canopy with respect to the vertical members, permitting adjustment of canopy overhang or length with ease. The framework design allows adjustment of the length and overhang of the canopy by the addition of frame members extending the canopy framework, such adjustment facilitated by the releasable coupling of the canopy to the vertical members. The framework of the canopy employs an improved truss design such as Howe kingpost to maximize framework strength, thereby enhancing endurance of the canopy and permitting substantial cantilevered canopy overhangs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects, advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods, operation and function of related elements of structure, and the combination of parts and economies of deployment, will become apparent upon consideration of the following description and claims with reference to the accompanying drawing, which forms a part of this specification, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention in conjunction with a boat lift;

FIG. 2 is a detailed view of the construction of the present invention in perspective;

FIG. 3a is a cross-sectional view of the channel-ridge configuration of the canopy ridgepole and horizontal members in an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3b shows an embodiment of a ridgepole center connector;

FIGS. 3c and 3d illustrate the ridgepole center connector attached to the ridgepole and struts;

FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a base side connector in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5a illustrates a tie bar connector;

FIGS. 5b through 5d illustrate a base corner connector in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a ridge end connector in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7a illustrates an upright member connector in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7b illustrates the connection of a leg connector to an upright member in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and

FIGS. 8a through 8d illustrate side and top views of various configurations of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to FIG. 1, depicted is an embodiment of the present invention. Canopy 102 is constructed as a truss type framework over which is wrapped a canvas cover. Canopy 102 supports its canvas cover over a watercraft lift 104, standing upon upright members 106, the canopy configured to sit upon legs 105 terminating in feet 107. Lift 104 may be any form of watercraft lift designed to be affixed to the bottom of a body of water, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,908,264 to Hey or U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,914, issued to the inventor of the present invention and which is incorporated herein by reference. Alternatively, lift 104 may be a floating lift as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,485,798 to Samoian et al., or U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/816,992 by the inventor of the present invention, incorporated herein by reference. Legs 105 may be dedicated to canopy 102, or in the alternative legs 105 may serve as supports for both canopy 102 and lift 102.

Turning now to FIG. 2, the canopy framework of the depicted embodiment comprises a ridgepole 202, connected to paired central rafters 204a, 204b and 206a, 206b at ridgepole center connector 208. Central reinforcing bar 210 provides additional structural integrity to the central rafter-ridgepole connector assembly. Central rafters 204, 206 and lateral rafters 212 and 214a connect with side horizontal member 216 at base center connector 218. Side horizontal member 216 is further connected to lateral rafter 222 and end horizontal member 220 at base corner connector 224.

Ridgepole 202 connects with lateral rafters 214a, 214b, 222 and 226 at ridgepole end connector 228. The resulting framework, which in preferred embodiments follows a Howe kingpost design for structural integrity, is supported by upright members 106, disposed upon leg connectors 230, joined to side horizontal members 216 at upright connectors 232, upright members 106 then disposed upon leg connectors 230 for connection to legs and feet supporting the overall structure.

Turning to the method of connecting the various components of the canopy framework, we come now to FIG. 3a, in which is depicted in cross section the channel-ridge configuration of ridgepole 202. FIG. 3b illustrates detail of ridgepole center connector 208, comprising a channel, 304, which interlocks with ridge 302 in ridgepole 202 to form a secure connection, depicted in FIG. 3c, wherein ridge 302 in ridgepole 202 interlocks with channel 304 in connector 208, the connector then secured horizontally in ridgepole 202 by bolts 306. Central rafter pair 204a, 206a is secured to connector 208 via bolt 308. In a similar fashion an interlocking connector (not depicted) identical to connector 208 connects to ridgepole 202 via channel ridge configuration on the other side of ridgepole 202, securing with bolts (not depicted) central rafter pair 204b, 206b (the latter not depicted in FIG. 3b) to ridgepole 202.

FIG. 3d illustrates the underside of ridgepole 202 connected to connectors 208. Shown is how lower central rafters 206a, 206b are each secured to a connector 208 via bolts 234. Central reinforcing bar 210 is secured to lower central rafters 206a, 206b via bolts 232.

Turning now to FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c, illustrated is an embodiment of base side connector 218 connecting lateral rafters 212 and 214a with central rafter 204a and side horizontal member 216. Side horizontal member 216 is an extruded rod with channel-ridge configuration similar to (if not identical to) the channel-ridge configuration of ridgepole 202 illustrated in cross-section in FIG. 2a. In the depicted embodiment, connector portion 218a cooperates with the channel in horizontal member 216, advantageously to allow sections of horizontal member 216 to be coupled and secured by bolts 408, thereby enabling the length of the canopy to be adjusted by the addition of frame members to extend the canopy framework.

Connector portion 218b connects via channel-ridge engagement with horizontal member 216 on the side opposite connector portion 218a, thereby connecting central rafter pair 204a and 206a (the latter not illustrated) and lateral rafters 212 and 214a to horizontal member 216, as secured by bolts 408. Connector portion 218b is further configured with a channel 402, in which is disposed tie bar 404.

Turning now to FIG. 4d, illustrated is a view of base side connector 218 on the side of horizontal member 216 opposite the side depicted in FIG. 4c. As can be seen, connector 218b engages in this side's channel of horizontal member 216 and is secured therein by bolts 412. Rafters 204a, 212 and 214a are secured to the other side of connector 218b and rafter 206a is secured to the depicted side of horizontal member 216 by bolt 410. Tie bar 404 passes through channel 402 in connector 218b.

Turning to FIG. 5a, illustrated is a tie bar support connector 502, which engages with a side horizontal member 216 or an end horizontal member 220 by cooperating with the member's channel-ridge configuration, support connector 502 further retaining a tie bar 404 within channel 504 in tie bar support connector 502. A number of support connectors 502 may be disposed along the inside channels of side horizontal members 216 and end horizontal members 220 to provide adequate support for tie bars 404 disposed within the rectangular frame provided by the horizontal members.

FIGS. 5b, 5c and 5d illustrate components of base corner connector 224. Side horizontal member 216 is connected to end horizontal member 220 via L-connector 224a, which engages the channel-ridge configuration of both member 216 and member 220. Connector component 224b, as depicted, is engaged with the channel ridge configuration of side member 216 and retains lateral rafter 222 via bolt 508. Further, component 224b is configured with a channel 506, retaining tie bar 404.

Turning now to FIG. 6, ridge end connector 228 (in this embodiment identical in configuration to ridge center connector 208, FIG. 3b) interlocks and connects with the end of ridgepole 202 in channel-ridge engagement (as discussed previously in regards ridge center connector 208 in reference to FIGS. 3a-3d), secured by bolts such as bolt 602. Lateral rafters 214a, 214b, 222 and 226, connect to and depend from ridge end connector 228, to connect to the rectangular base of the canopy formed by side horizontal members 216 and end horizontal members 220 (FIG. 2), as described previously in reference to FIGS. 4 and 5.

FIG. 7a illustrates the connection of upright member 216 to horizontal member 106 by upright member connector 232 which is interlocked and connected with horizontal member 106 by channel-ridge engagement. Connector 232 may be connected at one of many different points along horizontal member 106, facilitating adjustment of overhang and/or length of canopy 102. FIG. 7b illustrates the connection of leg connector 230 to upright member 216. Leg connector 230 is configured to receive and retain a leg supporting the canopy assembly, the means of such retention here illustrated by retaining bolt 702.

As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, the assembly technology and canopy framework design employed in the illustrated embodiments may be advantageously extended to cover a wide range of canopy configurations. Turning to FIG. 8, it can be seen that, simply by changing the length of the struts and the ridge post and horizontal member sections, canopies of different overall length and different overhang may be constructed using the same connectors, as illustrated in FIGS. 8a, 8b and 8c. As will be further appreciated by those of skill in the art, FIG. 8d illustrates the further extension of the canopy by the employment of additional center connectors to extend the framework. As will yet further be appreciated, these various canopy configurations all advantageously employ the structurally superior Howe kingpost design.

Further advantageously and of particular note, all of the canopy's connectors (ridgepole center connector 208, base center connector 218, base corner connector 224, ridgepole end connector 228, and upright connector 232) engage with the canopy assembly via channel-ridge engagement and not by welding, reducing the risk of structural failure due to metal fatigue and fracture. Yet further, all of the canopy's principal components (ridgepole, horizontal members, rafters and connectors) may be formed by extrusion, a process of manufacture known to those of skill in the art for its relative economy and scalability. Yet further still, the relative simplicity of the channel-ridge coupling employed in the present invention facilitates assembly of the canopy from its components, enabling the canopy to be distributed as a kit that may be assembled by users unfamiliar with the canopy art.

Conclusions, Ramifications, And Scope

Accordingly, it can be seen that the invention described herein provides an improved boat lift canopy, comprised of non-welded components which may be easily assembled, providing embodiments whose length and overhang is easily adjusted, with a truss framework of improved strength allowing substantial cantilevered overhangs.

Although the detailed descriptions above contain many specifics, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. Various other embodiments and ramifications are possible within its scope, a number of which are discussed in general terms above. It is intended that the scope of the present invention encompass all means known to those of skill in the art for practicing the invention according to its teachings.

While the invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it should be recognized that elements thereof may be altered by persons skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications and equivalents as can be reasonably included within the scope of the invention. The invention is limited only by the following claims and their equivalents.





 
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