Title:
Portable tie-down post for use in truck beds
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable, removable tie-down apparatus includes telescoping shafts that can be locked in place at various heights. Arms extend from the shafts onto which ropes or straps can be tied. The post can be installed in a cargo hold area and the ropes tied around various articles to keep the articles from shifting during transportation. The post includes both course and fine adjustments for the height. The course adjustment is accomplished via a pin and holes formed in the telescoping shafts. The fine adjustment is accomplished via a threaded rod attached to a post foot member.



Inventors:
Byard, Robert B. (Akron, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/469251
Publication Date:
04/17/2008
Filing Date:
08/31/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GORDON, STEPHEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Emerson, Thomson & Bennett, LLC (Akron, OH, US)
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. A tie-down apparatus, comprising: first and second shaft portions, the second shaft portion being telescopically operatively associated with the first shaft portion; a foot member extended from a first end of the second shaft portion, wherein the foot member is operatively pivotally connected with respect to the second shaft portion; at least a first arm extended from one of either the first and second shaft portions; and, securing means for use in securing associated articles in place.

2. The tie-down apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a lip the lip connected to the first shaft portion for use in hooking to an associated ledge of an associated wall.

3. The tie-down apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first shaft portion has at least a first hole, wherein the second shaft portion has at least a first hole; and, further comprising a pin, wherein the pin is operatively received within the holes of the first and second shaft portions for use in fixing the position of the first shaft portion with respect to the second shaft portion.

4. The tie-down apparatus of claim 1, wherein the securing means comprises a first rope.

5. The tie-down apparatus of claim 4, further comprising: A quick release rope locking device for use in holding the first rope.

6. A method of securing associated articles in place in a cargo hold, the steps comprising: providing a tie-down apparatus having one or more ropes; securing the tie-down apparatus within the cargo hold; tying the ropes around the associated articles; and, securing the ropes to the tie-down apparatus.

7. A tie-down apparatus, comprising: first and second shaft portions, the second shaft portion being telescopically operatively associated with the first shaft portion; a foot member extended from a first end of the second shaft portion, wherein the foot member is operatively pivotally connected with respect to the second shaft portion; at least a first arm extended from one of either the first and second shaft portions; and, a rope.

8. A tie-down apparatus, comprising: first and second shaft portions, the second shaft portion being telescopically operatively associated with the first shaft portion; a foot member extended from a first end of the second shaft portion, wherein the foot member is operatively pivotally connected with respect to the second shaft portion; at least a first arm extended from one of either the first and second shaft portions; and, a strap, the strap being made of a plastic material.

9. The tie-down apparatus of claim 7, further comprising: a lip connected to the first shaft portion for use in selectively connecting to the ledge of an associated wall.

10. The tie-down apparatus of claim 7, wherein the first shaft portion has a first hole and the second shaft portion has a first hole; and further comprising: a pin, wherein the pin is selectively operatively received within the hole of the first shaft portion and the hole of the second shaft portion to fix the position of the first shaft portion with respect to the second shaft portion.

11. The tie-down apparatus of claim 7, further comprising: A quick release rope locking device for use in holding the first rope in place.

12. A tie-down apparatus, comprising: first and second shaft portions, the second shaft portion being telescopically operatively associated with the first shaft portion, such that the first and second shaft portions are selectively moveable relative to the other along a common longitudinal axis; a foot member extended from a first end of the second shaft portion, the foot member having a body member and a boot member, the body member of the foot member have a first threaded end received within a threaded portion of the first end of the second shaft portion, the body member also having a ball at a second end of the body member, the ball being received within the boot member, the boot member being made of rubber and being operatively pivotally secureable against an associated floor of an associated cargo hold of an associated vehicle; a quick release rope locking device attached to the first shaft portion; at least a first arm extended from one of either the first and second shaft portions; and, a rope, the rope being selectively attachable to the first shaft portion by the quick release rope locking device.

Description:

I. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A. Field of Invention

This invention pertains to the art of methods and apparatuses for tie-down mechanisms for securing cargo in place, such as in a bed of a pickup truck, during travel, and more specifically to a portable tie-down post.

B. Brief History

It is well known in the art to secure articles or cargo in place during transportation from one location to another. Typically, the vehicle operator will use ropes or straps to wrap around the cargo. The operator then secures the ends of the ropes or straps to the vehicle to prevent shifting of the cargo within the vehicle and to prevent damage to the articles and the vehicle itself. A significant amount of cargo is transported using pick-up trucks and even standard passenger vehicles. Many types of vehicles including commercial vehicles are also used to carry articles from one place to another.

For the purposes of securing cargo in place, some vehicles provide rings or posts fixedly attached to the frame of the vehicle for tying the ropes or straps onto, as mentioned above. However, not all vehicles include these types of rigid rings or posts. Despite the fact that some vehicles do include rings or posts, the rings or posts provide only a single point to which to secure the ropes. Additionally, if multiple rings or posts are provided, they are typically positioned at a uniform level about the perimeter of the cargo hold area. The inventor has discovered a need for a tie-down post for securing cargo in place that can be moved from one position to another and that includes multiple places onto which a rope or strap can be tied. The present invention provides a workable solution to the aforementioned problems.

II. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of this invention includes removable tie-down post that can be rigidly secured in place about the interior of a cargo hold.

Another embodiment of this invention includes a tie-down post that can be adjusted to varying heights.

Yet another embodiment of this invention includes a tie-down post with multiple places onto which a rope or strap can be tied.

Still another embodiment of the present invention includes a tie-down post including securing ropes having one end fixedly attached at one end.

Yet another embodiment of this invention includes removable tie-down post that can articulate with respect to base portion.

III. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may take physical form in certain parts and arrangement of parts, a embodiments of which will be described in detail in this specification and illustrated in the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a removable tie-down post with securing ropes.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the first shaft portion.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the second shaft portion.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a tie-down post installed in the cargo hold of a vehicle.

IV. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating a embodiment of the invention only and not for purposes of limiting the same, FIG. 1 shows a selectively removable tie-down post, depicted generally at 1. The tie-down post 1 may include a central shaft 5. The shaft 5 may be generally longitudinal and may be formed from a cylindrical tube 6 having a hollow center portion. The shaft 5 may also be constructed from rigid material such as steel. However, the shaft 5 may be constructed from other rigid materials such as aluminum, plastic or the like. In fact, any material chosen with sound engineering judgment may be used to form the shaft 5. In one embodiment, the shaft 5 may include a first shaft portion 8 and a second shaft portion 9. The second shaft portion 9 may be telescopically moved within the first shaft portion 8 as will be discussed in detail in a subsequent paragraph. The tie-down post 1 may also include arms 12 that extend from the shaft 5. The arms 12 may be used to tie securing means, straps or ropes 3 to during use of the tie-down post 1. In this document, “securing means” should mean any known manner of securing cargo with a rope-like implement, including a rope, a long hook and loop strap, straps made of materials such as nylon or Velcro (hook and loops) material, with or without buckles, elastic or inelastic. Additionally, tie-down loops 15 may be included that extend outward from points 17, 17′ of the shaft 5. The tie-down loops may also be utilized to secure ropes to during use as discussed below. In one embodiment, the tie-down loops 15 may be generally arcuate. However, any configuration of loops 15 may be chosen as is appropriate for use with the subject invention. The tie-down post 1 may further include a lip 19 extending from one end 21 of the shaft 5. The lip 19 may be configured to fit underneath the ledge of the vehicle 50, shown in FIG. 4, for use in firmly holding the tie-down post 1 in place. At the distal end 22 of the shaft 5 height adjusting means 26 may be included that extend from end 22 as will also be discussed further in the following paragraphs.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, the subject invention may include two (2) sets of tie-down arms 12. One set of arms 12 may be positioned proximate the top of the first shaft portion 8. By set of arms it is meant, a pair of arms. However, any number of arms may be incorporated into the subject invention as chosen with sound engineering judgment. The arms 12 may be fixedly attached to the first shaft portion 8 via welding or other means well known in the art. The arms 12 may also be position 180° apart about the shaft 5 respectively. However, it is noted here that any degree angle of positioning the arms 12 about the shaft portion 8 may be chosen with sound engineering judgment. The arms 12 may be straight and may further include disk shaped ends 16 fixedly attached to the arms 12 to prevent ropes 3 or other securing means from slipping off the arms 12 during use, as will be discussed further below. The second set of arms 12 may be connected in a similar manner to the second shaft portion 9. In this way, the tie-down post 1 includes multiple connecting points at various height levels onto which the securing means or ropes may be attached. This is especially important when tying down different items having different heights or dimensions. The ropes 3 or securing means can be appropriately wrapped around any individual or combination of arms to securely hold a particular article in place.

With continued reference to FIG. 1 and now to FIGS. 2 and 3, as discussed above the shaft 5 may include first and second shaft portions 8, 9 respectively. The first shaft portion 8 may be an upper outer shaft portion 8. Accordingly, the second shaft portion 9 may be a lower inner shaft portion 9. The lower inner shaft portion 9 may be slidably received inside of the upper outer shaft portion 8. In other words, the circumference of the lower shaft portion 9 may be smaller than the circumference of the upper shaft portion 8 so that the shaft portions 8, 9 may telescopically move with respect to each other without encumbrances. The first shaft portion 8 may further include a hole 28 fashioned at a specific position about a longitudinal axis X-X of the first shaft portion 8. In one embodiment, the hole 28 may be fashioned in the first shaft portion 8 two (2) inches from the bottom of the first shaft portion 8, shown in FIG. 2. Similarly, the second shaft portion 9 may include a plurality of holes 28′ fashioned perpendicularly in the second shaft portion 9 with respect to a longitudinal axis of the second shaft portion 9. Of course, it should be realized that the first and second shaft portions 8, 9 may share the same longitudinal axis. FIG. 3 shows the holes 28′ spaced approximately one (1) inch apart. However, the spacing shown here is for exemplary purposes. Any configuration of spacing may be chosen as is appropriate for use with the subject invention. The position of the holes 28, 28′ may line up with each other at various positions along the longitudinal axis to allow a pin 31 to be inserted through, the set of holes 28, 28′ for fixing the position of the first shaft portion 8 with respect to the second shaft portion 9. In one embodiment, seven (7) holes may be fashioned in the second shaft portion 9 constituting a course height adjustment. However, any number of corresponding holes 28′ may be fashioned in the shaft portion 9 as is appropriate for use with the subject inventions. The pin 31 may be constructed from a high shear strength material to keep the shaft portions 8, 9 from shearing the pin 31. The pin material may be, but is not limited to hardened steel, stainless steel, metal alloys or the like. Subject to the description above, the operator may adjust the first and second shaft portions 8, 9 to a desired general overall length corresponding to the position of a specific pair of holes 28, 28′. Once the hole 28 in the first shaft portion 8 has been lined up with one of the holes 28′ of the second shaft portion 9, the operator may subsequently insert the pin 31 through the holes 28, 28′ to fix the position of the first and second shaft portions 8, 9. In this manner, the length of the tie-down post 1 has a selectively adjustable length. In one embodiment, the selectively adjustable length of the tie-down post 1 may range from about 10 inches to 24 inches. This may correspond to the length of the first shaft portion 8 being substantially 11 inches and to the length of the second shaft portion having a length of 12.5 inches. It should be noted here that any length of first and second shaft portions 8, 9 and any configuration of fashioning holes in the respective shaft portion 8, 9 may be chosen with sound engineering judgment.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1 through 3, height adjusting means 26 may extend from one end of the shaft 5. In one embodiment, the height adjusting means 26 may comprise a threaded rod 35 having a generally rounded or ball-shaped end 38. The externally fashioned threads of the rod 35 may match internal threads fashioned in the end of the second shaft portion 9. Accordingly, the height adjusting means 26 may be extended or retracted as desired by screwing or unscrewing the threaded rod 35 with respect to the second shaft portion 9. In this manner, the height adjusting means 26 may constitute fine height adjustment. After the operator has chosen a course adjustment, that is to say selected the desired hole set 28, 28′ combination described above, the operator may then adjust the fine adjustment setting of the threaded rod 35 to fit the tie-down post 1 into the desired location. Continuing, a foot member 40 may be received onto the ball-shaped end 38 of the threaded rod 35. The foot member 40 may include a pocket 37 that receives the ball-shaped end 38. The ball-shaped end 38 may snap into the pocket 37 allowing the ball-shaped end 38 to swivel about the foot member 40 without coming out. This allows the foot member 40 to sit squarely on a surface that may not be perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the tie-down post 1. In this manner, the tie-down post 1 comprises an articulating end. The fine adjustment means may further include a locking mechanism, which may include a clamp or pin, not shown, to lock the fine adjustment means in place. This may prevent the fine adjustment means from coming loose during use and may also prevent theft of the device 1. In an alternate embodiment, the threaded rod 35 may additionally include a strain gauge, not shown, incorporated between the threaded rod 35 and the second shaft portion 9. In this manner, the strain gauge may provide a means for determining how tight the threaded rod 35 may need to be tightened to appropriately secure the tie-down post 1 to the vehicle ledge.

With reference again to FIGS. 1 through 3 and also to FIG. 4, the end 21 of the shaft 5 may include a lip 19 as mentioned above. The lip 19 may be a separate rigid lip member that is welded or affixed to the end 21 of the shaft 5 in a manner well known in the art. Alternatively, it is conceived that the lip member may be contiguously formed with the shaft 5. The lip member 19 may include a cup portion 20 that extends downward and bends upward for use in hooking the lip 19 to the under the side of vehicle cargo ledge 51, shown in FIG. 4. In this manner, the operator may place the tie-down post 1 under the ledge of the vehicle cargo hold 53. It is noted here that the tie-down post 1 placed in this position does not interfere with the area available for storing cargo as it is situated behind the wheel well and under the ledge. With the tie-down post 1 in position, the operator may then adjust the course and fine height adjustment settings for securing the tie-down post 1 in place.

With reference again to FIG. 1, ropes 3 are shown connected at one end 54 to the tie-down loops 15. The end 54 of the ropes 3 may be wrapped around the tie-down loop 15 and fixed together via clasps 57 or other securing mechanism. In this manner, one end of the ropes 3 may be fixedly connected to the tie-down post 1 for use in holding in place various articles stored in the cargo hold 53 during transportation. The other end 59 of the ropes 3 may be unsecured to the tie-down post 1 so that the rope 3 may be routed through or around the articles in the cargo hold 53. Once the rope 3 has been positioned around the articles being transported, end 59 of the rope 3 may be inserted into a rope locking device 62. In one embodiment, the rope locking device 62 may be a quick release rope locking device 62. Levers 64, internal to the locking device 62, may be connected to notched rope grabbers or holders, not shown, and may be spring loaded to hold the end 59 of the rope 3. In that the use of quick release rope locking devices 1 is known in the art no further explanation will be offered at this time. Two (2) rope locking devices 62 may be included with the tie-down post 1. However, it is contemplated that additional rope locking devices 62 may be included as needed to secure additional ropes in accordance with the description of the subject invention. The rope locking device 62 may be fixedly secured to the shaft 5 in any manner chosen with sound engineering judgment. However, it is desirable that the rope locking device 62 be free to move about in any position so that the ends 59 of the rope 3 may be easily inserted into the rope locking device 62 from any direction. In this manner, the rope locking device 62 may include a ring 66 that can be selectively attached and removed from the shaft 5. In one embodiment, the shaft 5 may include a loop member 68 for connecting to the ring 66. Still, any manner of connecting the rope locking device 62 to the shaft 5 may be chosen with sound engineering judgment. It is noted here that FIG. 3 depicts two (2) ropes secured to the tie-down post. However, fewer or greater numbers of ropes may be included as chosen for use with the subject invention.

With reference to all of the FIGURES, a use of the invention will now be described. The operator may grasp the tie-down post 1 and position the tie-down post 1 underneath the ledge of the wall of a cargo hold area for the subject vehicle. The operator may place the foot member 40 onto the bed of the cargo hold area adjacent to the articles that are to be secured in place for transportation. If the surface is of the vehicle bed is slanted, the operator may articulate the shaft 5 of the tie-down post 1 to a substantially vertical position. The operator may then extend the first shaft member 8 upward to bring the lip 19 proximate to the underside of the ledge of the wall and insert the pin 31 to lock the shaft portions 8, 9 together. The operator may further adjust, or extend, the threaded rod 35 so that the tie-down post 1 is firmly held in place. Once the tie-down post has been fixed in place, the operator may unravel one or more of the ropes 3 to tie the articles down preventing movement during transportation. The end of the ropes 3 may then be inserted into the rope locking device 62 and pulled snug talking up slack in the ropes and holding the articles firmly in place. It is noted that the operator may desire to wrap excess rope around one or more of the arms 12 or tie-down loops 15 and then insert the rope end 59 in the rope locking device 62. As discussed in detail above, the tie-down post 1 include multiple arms 12 and tie-down loops 15. These components 12, 15 are positioned at various heights about the longitudinal axis of the shaft 5 to affectively secure articles having varying heights and dimensions in place. During storage of the tie-down post 1, the operator may wrap the ropes 3 around the arms 12 as shown in FIG. 1.

The embodiments have been described, hereinabove. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the above methods may incorporate changes and modifications without departing from the general scope of this invention. It is intended to include all such modifications and alterations in so far as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.