Title:
TENSIONING DEVICE FOR A FENCE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tensioning device attachable to a fence post to tension or adjust fencing material such as barbed wire spanning between fence posts. The tensioning device includes guides to support the fencing material, a curved member to grasp the fencing material between the guides, a base member, and a tensioning member that cooperates with the curved member to pull the fencing material into a channel formed between the guides. One use of the tensioning device is to tension fencing material that has become slack or has sagged after installation. The tensioning device can be installed on a fence post and operated with conventional tools. In one embodiment, the tensioning device includes a rear channel to allow the device to be slid and positioned over the studs of a conventional “tee” fence post. In another embodiment, the tensioning device includes a flat back surface to accommodate other types of fence posts.



Inventors:
Ross, Clem (Tahuya, WA, US)
Ross, Rick (Auburn, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/773885
Publication Date:
01/17/2008
Filing Date:
07/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20020109132Plastic fence assemblyAugust, 2002Tsao
20060113517Modular fencing system and method for constructing sameJune, 2006Colantonio et al.
20050151124Baluster with beveled endJuly, 2005Hoggan
20060214149Structure of DIY fenceSeptember, 2006Hung
20080135821Temporary Safety Barrier SystemJune, 2008Svedberg
20050092976Cap for a fence picket and picket combination therewithMay, 2005Steffes
20090014701FencescapesJanuary, 2009Foster
20100044663INTERLOCKING FENCING SYSTEMFebruary, 2010Ptacek et al.
20040004211Casting from for a cast-in-place columnar structural element and fencing system including cast-in-place columnar structural elementsJanuary, 2004John Jr.
20060163552Gate panel assemblyJuly, 2006Jacobs
20060284154Component railing system and method of installationDecember, 2006Sprague



Primary Examiner:
GARCIA, ERNESTO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOWE GRAHAM JONES, PLLC (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device attachable to a fence post to tension fencing material spanning between fence posts, the device comprising: guide members spaced apart from one another to form a channel therebetween, the guide members having upper guide surfaces and fence attachment openings, the guide surfaces configured to support portions of the fencing material, the fence attachment openings sized to receive a fastening device for coupling the guide members to the fence post; a base member positioned below the guide members, the base member having an opening extending therethrough; and a fence material grasping member having an elongated body with a curved portion, at least a portion of the elongated body positioned in the channel between the guide members, the curved portion configured to engage a portion of the fence material that spans between the guide members, wherein the elongated body is moveable through the opening in the base member to pull the portion of the fence material that spans between the guide members toward the base member using the curved portion and thus tighten a larger span of the fencing material.

2. The device of claim 1, further comprising: a rear body portion coupled to the guide members, the rear body portion having a mounting surface to contact the fence post.

3. The device of claim 2, further comprising: a rear channel formed in the rear body portion, the rear channel having a depth to receive a stud of the fence post while permitting a surface of the rear body portion to be in contact with the fence post.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the base member opening is substantially aligned with the channel formed between the guide members.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the curved portion of the fence material grasping member is a hook.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein the guide surfaces extend at least partially into the channel between the guide members.

7. The device of claim 1, the fence material grasping member includes an engagement portion distally located from the curved portion.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein the engagement portion of the fence material includes machine threads.

9. The device of claim 7 wherein the engagement portion of the fence material grasping member includes a plurality of extensions configured to cooperate with the base member to maintain the fence material grasping member in a set position relative to the base member.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein the fence material grasping member is a push-in rivet and the curved portion is a hook coupled to the push-in rivet.

11. The device of claim 1, further comprising: a tensioning member having an opening to complementarily receive an engagement portion of the fence material grasping member, the tensioning member moveable relative to the fence material grasping member to urge the portion of the fence material that spans between the guide members into the channel toward the base member.

12. The device of claim 1 wherein the tensioning member is a threaded nut.

13. A method of tensioning fencing material that spans between fence posts, the method comprising: attaching a tensioning device to a fence post, the tensioning device comprising guide members and a base member, the guide members spaced apart from one another to form a channel, the guide members having guide surfaces over which a first portion of the fencing material is supported, the base member positioned below and in structural cooperation with the guide members; engaging a curved portion of a fence material grasping member with a portion of the fencing material that spans between the guide members; and moving an elongated portion of the fence material grasping member through an opening in the base member to urge the portion of the fencing material that spans between the guide member toward the base member.

14. The device of claim 13 wherein attaching a tensioning device to a fence post includes tying the tensioning device to the fence post with straps.

15. The device of claim 13 wherein attaching the tensioning device to the fence post includes placing a rear channel over a t-post stud extending from the fence post.

16. The device of claim 13 wherein engaging the curved portion of the fence material grasping member with the portion of the fencing material that spans between the guide members includes hooking the portion of the fencing material that spans between the guide members with the curved portion.

17. The device of claim 13 wherein moving the elongated portion of the fence material grasping member through the opening in the base member includes rotating a nut relative to a threaded region of the elongated portion.

18. The device of claim 13 wherein moving the elongated portion of the fence material grasping member through the opening in the base member includes tensioning a span of fencing material located between at least two fence posts.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Fences, stretching sometimes miles and miles, are often constructed around ranch or farm properties or along roadsides. The fencing material, such as barbed or non-barbed wire, spans from one fence post to another. The fencing wire is subjected to the environment (e.g., wind, ice, snow, heat, etc.), to lateral forces provided by persons or animals, and/or to structural creep and strain. Any or all of these conditions tend to create slack or sag in the fencing material. One type of system currently available for tightening or tensioning the fence material includes a metal disk, plate, or rod device coupled to the fencing material approximately mid-span. A special tool, sometimes referred to as a crank tool, couples to the metal disk, plate, clip, or rod device. The tool turned or cranked causing the fencing material to wrap around the device and thus tighten the fence. One type of fence tightening system is a wire tightening clip and crank tool provided by JAKE'S WIRE TIGHENTERS™. In these types of systems, the device, but not the tool, is typically left coupled to the fencing material and operates as a concentrated load on the fencing material. Over time, this load added to the span-weight of the fencing material causes additional or further sagging of the fence.

Other systems include a pair of clamps or jaws connected by a chain. This system is attached to the fencing material somewhere between the fence posts. One jaw attaches to a first portion of the fencing material and a second jaw attaches to a second portion of the fencing material. A special ratcheting tool is connected to one of the jaws and is used to ratchet the chain, thus pulling the first portion toward the second portion and tightening the fence material.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A device for tensioning or tightening fence material, such as a barbed wire, on a fence section includes a fence attachment body, a fence material grasping member, and a tensioning element. In one embodiment, the fence attachment body is strapped to the fence post and includes a rear channel that allows the fence attachment body to sit on the flat surface of a conventional “tee” fence post (i.e., t-post) over top of the studs on the t-post. Additionally or alternatively, the fence attachment body is attachable to a surface of a wood, plastic, composite, or other type of fence post by mechanical techniques, for example being nailed, screwed, wire tied, strapped, etc. to the fence post. The fence material grasping member hooks over the fencing material. A tensioning element, coupled to the fence material grasping member, is rotated to urge the fence material down into a channel formed in the fence attachment body.

In one aspect of the invention, a device attachable to a fence post to tension fencing material spanning between fence posts, the device includes guide members spaced apart from one another to form a channel therebetween, the guide members having upper guide surfaces and fence attachment openings, the guide surfaces configured to support portions of the fencing material, the fence attachment openings sized to receive a fastening device for coupling the guide members to the fence post; a base member positioned below the guide members, the base member having an opening extending therethrough; and a fence material grasping member having an elongated body with a curved portion, at least a portion of the elongated body positioned in the channel between the guide members, the curved portion configured to engage a portion of the fence material that spans between the guide members, wherein the elongated body is moveable through the opening in the base member to pull the portion of the fence material that spans between the guide members toward the base member using the curved portion and thus tighten a larger span of the fencing material.

In another aspect of the invention, a method of tensioning fencing material that spans between fence posts, the method includes attaching a tensioning device to a fence post, the tensioning device comprising guide members and a base member, the guide members spaced apart from one another to form a channel, the guide members having guide surfaces over which a first portion of the fencing material is supported, the base member positioned below and in structural cooperation with the guide members; engaging a curved portion of a fence material grasping member with a portion of the fencing material that spans between the guide members; and moving an elongated portion of the fence material grasping member through an opening in the base member to urge the portion of the fencing material that spans between the guide member toward the base member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, identical reference numbers identify similar elements or acts. The sizes and relative positions of elements in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. For example, the shapes of various elements and angles are not drawn to scale, and some of these elements are arbitrarily enlarged and positioned to improve drawing legibility. Further, the particular shapes of the elements as drawn are not intended to convey any information regarding the actual shape of the particular elements, and have been solely selected for ease of recognition in the drawings. Various embodiments are briefly described with reference to the following drawings:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a portion of a fence having a tensioning device to grasp and tension an amount of fencing material, according to one illustrated embodiment;

FIG. 2 is an exploded, isometric view of the tensioning device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a portion of a fence having a tensioning device that includes a fence material grasping member cooperating with a base member, according to another illustrated embodiment;

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of a tensioning device having a fence attachment body that cooperates with a threaded, curved member to adjust or tension an amount of fencing material, according to yet another illustrated embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a front, plan view of the fence attachment body of the tensioning device of FIG. 4; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the fence attachment body of FIG. 4 taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various embodiments of the invention. However, one skilled in the art will understand that the invention may be practiced without these details. In other instances, well-known structures and methods associated with fencing and/or installing a fence may not be shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring descriptions of the embodiments of the invention.

Unless the context requires otherwise, throughout the specification and claims which follow, the word “comprise” and variations thereof, such as “comprises” and “comprising,” are to be construed in an open, inclusive sense meaning “including, but not limited to.”

The following description generally relates to a tensioning device mounted to a fence post that is used to tension or adjust an amount of fencing material such as wire (barbed or non-barbed), cord, cable, tape, string, rope, line, chain, or any other similar material that may used to span between fence posts to create a fence section. By way of example and in accordance with one embodiment, the tensioning device is used to tension a barbed-wire fence section on a ranch during and/or after installation of the fence section. After installation for example, tensioning of the fencing material may become necessary for a variety of reasons. The fencing material may become slack or and/or sag due to the weight of the span length of the fencing material, or the fencing material may become strained and/or elongated due to wind, snow, or other environmental forces, and/or the fencing material may become stretched because of physical contact by a person or animal. The tensioning device can be temporarily or permanently attached to one of the fence posts and operated with a conventional tool such as a hand-held wrench or ratchet.

FIG. 1 shows a portion of a fence 100 comprising a tensioning device 102 mounted to a fence post 104 with fence post fastening means 105. The tensioning device 102 engages a portion of fencing material 106, according to one illustrated embodiment. In the illustrated embodiment, the fence post 104 comprises a standard wooden fence post 104 with a front surface 108 and a back surface 110. In another embodiment, the fence post 104 is a metal, studded fence post commonly referred to as a “t-post,” which is further described with respect to FIG. 3. Alternatively, the fence post 104 may be another type or style of fence post, for example having a different cross-sectional shape such as round, oval, square, or I-beam. Thus, the back surface 110 of the tensioning device 102 may be contoured, notched, recessed, or otherwise configured to be coupled to fence post 104 and even possibly be moved along the front surface 108 of the fence post 104. The fence post 104 may be made of wood, plastic, composite, and/or some other material.

The fencing material 106 extends from one fence post 104 to the next (not shown). In one embodiment, the fencing material 106 comprises wrapped metal strands 112 with barbs 114 spaced apart and located on the strands 112 (i.e., barbed wire). The fencing material 106 is not limited to barbed wire, but may be any type of material capable of spanning a distance between two or more fence posts 104 while functioning as a fence. By way of example, some functions of the fence may be to enclose small farm animals; maintain horses in a horse pasture; provide a roadside blockade to keep deer, elk, or other wild animals off of the road; etc. In other embodiments, the fencing material 106 may be wound, metal strands or cabling, with or without a sheath or coating, electrified fencing wire, rope, tape, and/or some other type of tension-able material 104.

FIG. 2 shows the tensioning device 102 having guide members 116, a base member 118, a fence material grasping member 120, a tensioning member 122, and an optional backing member 124, according to one illustrated embodiment. The guide members 116 include guide surfaces 126 to receive and support the fencing material 106. The guide members 116 are spaced apart to form a channel 128. Each guide member 116 includes at least one opening 130 to allow the guide member 116 to be coupled to the fence post 104.

The guide members 116 include retaining flanges 132 that cooperate with the fence material grasping member 120 during tensioning of the fencing material 106 to maintain and/or constrain the fencing material 106 between the retaining flanges 132 and the fence material grasping member 120. In one embodiment, which may occur before the fence material grasping member 120 has engaged the fence material 106, a front surface 134 of the backing member 124 cooperates with the retaining flanges 132 to maintain the fencing material 106 on the guide surfaces 126 of the guide members 116.

The guide surfaces 126 support portions of the fencing material 106. In one embodiment, the guide surfaces 126 are configured with a hard surface to permit the barbs 114 of a barbed-wire fencing material 106 to pass over the guide surfaces 126 with minimal resistance and/or gouging.

The base member 118 includes an upper surface 138 and an opening 140. In one embodiment, the upper surface 138 of the base member 118 is in contact with the guide members 116 to react the force produced by torquing the tensioning member 122 onto the fence material grasping member 120. The base member 118 can be seated against, bonded to, integrally formed with, or otherwise mechanically connected to the guide members. The size, shape, thickness and/or other dimensions of the base member 118 may vary depending on the style of fence post 104 and/or the configuration of the guide members 116. The opening 140 extends through the base member 118 and is sized to allow at least a portion of the fence material grasping member 120 to pass through base member 118 with a clearance fit, according to one embodiment.

The fence material grasping member 120 includes a first end region 142 and a second end region 144 separated by an intermediate region 146, according to one illustrated embodiment. In one embodiment, the fence material grasping member 120 is a hook-shaped member where the first end region 142 is sufficiently curved to form a hook 148. In addition, the second end region 144 includes a number of machine screw threads to engage the tensioning member 122, which is illustrated as a nut in the present embodiment.

The optional backing member 124 is a plate located between the fence post 104 and the guide members 116. The backing member 124 may operate as an electrically insulated plate when electrified fencing material 106 is used, a bearing plate when the fence post 104 of made of a relatively soft material such as wood, and/or as a structural reinforcement for the fence post 104. In one example, the backing member 124 is used when mounting the tensioning device 102 to a wooden fence post 104. In a preferred embodiment, however, the backing member 124, which may comprise rear flanges extending from the guide members 116 (not shown), is not needed to maintain the fencing material 106 on the guide surfaces 126. Instead, the hook 148 of the fence material grasping member 120 pulls the fencing material 106 at an angle toward the retaining flanges 132, which allows the fencing material 106 to be retained between the fence material grasping member 120 and the retaining flanges 132, such as during slack or sag conditions.

FIG. 3 shows a portion of a fence 200 comprising a tensioning device 202 mounted to a fence post 204, according to one illustrated embodiment. The tensioning device 202 is engaged with a portion of fencing material 206. In the illustrated embodiment, the fence post 204 is a t-post, which is the type of post commonly used for ranch, farm, and roadside fencing. The fence post 204 includes a front surface 208, a back surface 210, protrusions, knobs, or studs 212, and an outstanding flange 214. The dimensions of the t-post 204 and spacing of the studs 212 may vary depending on the requirements of the fence.

In one embodiment, the tensioning device 202 is attached to the fence post 204 with ties, straps, and/or wraps 207, which may be made from metal, fabric, composite, plastic, or some other type of material. In another embodiment, the tensioning device 202 is attached to the fence post 204 with screws, bolts, rivets, tape, adhesive or bonding agent, and/or some other mechanical fastening means. Various mechanical techniques and/or methods may be used to attach the tensioning device 202 to the fence post 204 depending on factors such as the type of fence post, the type and/or amount of fencing material to be tensioned, etc.

As further shown in FIG. 3, guide blocks 220 are integrally formed with a base member 222 and a backing member 224. A grasping member 226 includes hook region 228 and an engagement region 230 includes a plurality of expansion/contraction elements 232 arranged to allow the engagement region 230 to be urged (e.g., pushed or pulled) through an opening 234 in the base member 222. The expansion/contraction elements 232 are configured to be in a contracted state when moved in a first direction 236 and placed in contact with the walls of the base member 222 forming the opening 234. Otherwise, the elements 232 are in an expanded state which substantially prevents the grasping member 226 from being moved opposite to the first direction 236. In one embodiment, the grasping member 226 operates as a push-in rivet device.

FIGS. 4-6 show a tensioning device 300 having a fence attachment body 302, a grasping device 304, and a tensioning element 306, according to one illustrated embodiment. For purposes of clarity, an amount of fencing material 308 is shown as being supported by the fence attachment body 302 even though a fence post is not shown.

The fence attachment body 302 includes guide surfaces 310, retaining flanges 312, a base portion 314, a front channel 316, a structural web 318, and fence attachment openings 320. The base portion 314 includes an opening 322 that is substantially aligned with the channel 316.

As best seen in FIGS. 5 and 6, the structural web 318 of the tensioning device 300 includes a rear channel 324 and an optional opening 326. The rear channel 324 is sized to permit the fence attachment body 302 to be placed in sliding contact with a t-post type of fence post, which in turn permits the attachment body 302 to be slid or moved up and down the t-post without interference from the t-post studs. In one embodiment, the optional opening 326 permits the fence attachment body 302 to be positioned or oriented with respect to a desired stud on the t-post, for example the third stud from the top of the t-post.

The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. All of the above U.S. patents, patent applications and publications referred to in this specification are incorporated herein by reference. Aspects can be modified, if necessary, to employ devices, features, and concepts of the various patents, applications, and publications to provide yet further embodiments.

These and other changes can be made in light of the above detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all types of fencing materials and other similar components, to include but not limited to all types of fence posts and fencing material that span between fence posts, and that operate in accordance with the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the disclosure, but instead its scope is to be determined entirely by the following claims.