Title:
LOAD SECURING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed toward an apparatus for quickly and efficiently tensioning chain or cable and the like. More specifically, the invention relates to tumbuckles or load binders used for adjusting and tensioning chains or cables to secure equipment. In particular, the present invention provides a powered or manually operated device for securing a load to a cart, trailer, or other equipment carrier.



Inventors:
Fritel, Raymond (Waco, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/562518
Publication Date:
05/22/2008
Filing Date:
11/22/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20160194083AIR CUSHION AIRCRAFT CARGO LOADING SYSTEMS AND MANUALLY-OPERATED CONFORMAL TIE OFF POINTJuly, 2016Himmelmann
20110284603APPARATUS FOR SECURING A MOTORBIKE WITHIN A TRUCK BEDNovember, 2011Reyes
20140363253Sling ItDecember, 2014Bedient
20100135742Enclosed Shipping PlatformJune, 2010Sain
20170096094Mobile Coin Vault Clamp SystemApril, 2017Polad
20090278326Kits, Components and Stackable Trailers for Transporting ContainersNovember, 2009Rowland et al.
20060280574Cargo securement, cargo shift stopDecember, 2006Becker
20060133905Winch systemJune, 2006Woodruff
20030044253Holding systemMarch, 2003Vazquez-garcia
20120315105PNEUMATIC SYSTEM FOR USE WITH DUNNAGE BAGSDecember, 2012Freeman et al.
20060159543Catcher tire abutment device for restraining road vehicle on a transport vehicleJuly, 2006Winsor



Primary Examiner:
ENGLE, PATRICIA LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NAMAN, HOWELL, SMITH & LEE (WACO, TX, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus for securing a load, comprising: a load binder having an axially extending tubular body with first and second opposite end portions having right and left hand threads on their respective inner or outer surfaces, said load binder including first and second axially extending threaded members with exterior or interior threads, each said axially extending threaded member being configured to engage said threads of one of said opposite end portions; a ratchet member attached to said load binder, said ratchet member being configured to transfer torque from a powered torque submitting device to said load binder to draw said axially extending threaded members toward one another or force said axially extending threaded members away from one another; and a handle member attached to said ratchet member wherein said ratchet member may be converted for manual application of torque to said load binder.

2. An apparatus for securing a load, comprising: a first end member having a distal and proximal end, said first end member being externally or internally threaded at said first end member distal end, said second end member having a first attachment means at said first end member proximal end; a second end member having a distal and proximal end, said second end member being externally or internally threaded at said second end member distal end, said second end member having a second attachment means at said second end member proximal end; an elongate tube member having a proximal and distal end, said elongate tube member being internally or externally right-hand threaded at said proximal end and being internally or externally left-hand threaded at said distal end, said first and second end members being threaded into or onto said elongate tube member proximal and distal ends, said elongate tube member being configured such that when said elongate tube member is rotated in one direction, said first and second end members are drawn together and when said elongate tube member is rotated in the opposite direction said first and second end members are pushed apart; a first power transmission member, said first power transmission member being attached to said elongate tube member; a second power transmission member; an input member, said input member being attached to said second power transmission member, said second power transmission member being configured to transfer torque from said input member to said first power transmission member, said input member being configured to receive torque from an externally powered torque submitting device; a housing member, said housing member substantially enclosing said first and second power transmission members, said housing member substantially enclosing said input member; and a power source securing member, said power source securing member being attached to said housing member, said power source member being configured to secure an externally powered torque submitting device.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive chain.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive cable.

5. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive straps.

6. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said first and second power transmission members are gears.

7. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said input member is a socket drive.

8. The apparatus of claim 2 further comprising an extended handle member attached to said housing member.

9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said input member and said housing member are engaged with one another through a removable pin member to allow manual application of torque to said elongate tube member.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive chain.

11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive cable.

12. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive straps.

13. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said first and second power transmission members are gears.

14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said input member is a drive socket.

15. A method of securing a load, comprising: applying a first load securing member and a second load securing member to a load; selecting an apparatus for securing a load comprising: a first end member having a distal and proximal end, said first end member being externally or internally right-hand threaded at said first end member distal end, said second end member having a first attachment means at said first end member proximal end; a second end member having a distal and proximal end, said second end member being externally or internally left-hand threaded at said second end member distal end, said second end member having a second attachment means at said second end member proximal end; an elongate tube member having a proximal and distal end, said elongate tube member being internally or externally right-hand threaded at said proximal end and being internally or externally left-hand threaded at said distal end, said first and second end members being threaded into said elongate tube member proximal and distal ends, said elongate tube member being configured such that when said elongate tube member is rotated in one direction, said first and second end members are drawn together and when said elongate tube member is rotated in the opposite direction said first and second end members are pushed apart; a first power transmission member, said first power transmission member being attached to said elongate tube member; a second power transmission member; an input member, said input member being attached to said second power transmission member, said second power transmission member being configured to transfer torque from said input member to said first power transmission member, said input member being configured to receive torque from an externally powered torque submitting device; a housing member, said housing member substantially enclosing said first and second power transmission members, said housing member substantially enclosing said input member; and a power source securing member, said power source securing member being attached to said housing member, said power source member being configured to secure an externally powered torque submitting device; securing said first attachment means to said first load securing member; securing said second attachment means to said second load securing member; engaging a torque submitting device with said input means; securing said torque submitting device in said power source securing member; and applying torque to said apparatus via said torque submitting device until said first and second load securing members are properly tensioned to secure said load.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive chain.

17. The method of claim 15 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive cable.

18. The method of claim 15 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive straps.

19. The method of claim 15 wherein said first and second power transmission members are gears.

20. The method of claim 15 wherein said input member is a socket drive.

21. The method of claim 15 wherein said apparatus is further comprising an extended handle member attached to said housing member.

22. The method of claim 21 wherein said input member and said housing member are engaged with one another through a removable pin member to allow manual application of torque to said elongate tube member.

23. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive chain.

24. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive cable.

25. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second end member attachment means are adapted to receive straps.

26. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second power transmission members are gears.

27. The method of claim 22 wherein said input member is a drive socket.

28. The method of claim 22 wherein said torque submitting device is a pneumatic ratchet.

29. The method of claim 22 wherein said torque submitting device is an electric ratchet.

30. The method of claim 22 wherein said torque submitting device is a hydraulic ratchet.

31. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second load securing members are chain.

32. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second load securing members are cable.

33. The method of claim 22 wherein said first and second load securing members are straps.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed toward an apparatus for quickly and efficiently tensioning chain or cable and the like. More specifically, the invention relates to turnbuckles or load binders used for adjusting and tensioning chains or cables to secure equipment. In particular, the present invention provides a powered or manually operated device for securing a load to a cart, trailer, or other equipment carrier.

2. Background Information

Load securing devices, otherwise known as turnbuckles or load binders, are well known as exemplified by the number of patents representing the same, such as U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,971,472, 2,220,288, 2,673,632, and 4,130,269, which are herein incorporated by reference. Each of the aforementioned load securing devices works well for its intended purpose: securing massive loads to barges, steamboats or even long haul tractor/trailer operations via manually tensioning chains or cables strapped across the equipment to be transported. As can be seen by a quick review of each reference, these references disclose ratchet type load binders.

The load securing devices disclosed in the above United States Patents are basically comprised of two externally threaded end pieces, an internally threaded center piece with right-hand threads at one end and left hand threads at the opposite end, and a manual ratcheting mechanism. As assembled, the two externally threaded end pieces each screw into the internally threaded center piece. The manual ratcheting mechanism, in turn, is attached to the center piece. In operation, each of the externally threaded end pieces is attached to separate ends of a chain or cable strapped across a load. The operator must then manually torque the ratchet mechanism, rotating the internally threaded center piece, drawing the externally threaded end pieces toward one another. The ratcheting type load securing system is particularly useful in that, although laborious, the system works well for securing loads for long hauls. That is, because the system is laborious to use, it works best for loads that will be secured for a long period of time.

However, many industrial or manufacturing plants must secure loads to carts or trailers for much shorter trips to be made several times a day or even several times an hour. In such a circumstance, the aforesaid process of manually tensioning the chain or cable each time a load is added becomes much too laborious. Furthermore, the repetitive nature of manually applying torque to such a load securing device inevitably leads to repetitive stress injuries, the leading category of injuries in the workplace today.

In the past, inventors have developed various powered methods of tensioning chain or cables in a load securing device, as demonstrated in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,157,171 and 4,617,703. These patents disclose tensioning devices, which may be powered by pneumatic wrenches, in an effort to increase the speed of the tensioning process. The invention disclosed by these patents is essentially comprised of a single threaded member to which a pneumatic socket wrench must be applied in order to draw one chain end toward the other stationary chain end. As such, the devices were a step forward; however, several issues remained unresolved.

First, these load securing devices, by their single screw nature, necessitated either a very short draw length or a very long screw. In the case of a shortened device, the chains or cable must be relatively taut in the device's starting position to prevent the device from running out of draw as the chain or cable is fully tensioned and the load is secured. Conversely, in the case of a long screw, the draw length is increased at the expense of the time and excess energy needed to move one end of the chain toward the other, leading to exposed threading and maintenance issues as well.

Secondly, the design of the aforementioned load securing devices trades one risk of repetitive injury for another. That is, these designs allow the use of a powered tool to tension chain or cable and secure a load, thus easing the laborious task of repetitively, manually applying torque to the tensioning device; however, at the same time, the devices disclosed require the use of a powered socket wrench, which must be hand held during use. Requiring the use of a powered wrench at various angles and positions, in turn, leads to a host of other potential repetitive stress injuries as well.

Finally, the above disclosed devices require the use of a powered tool. This works well until the power source is out of operation or otherwise unavailable. In such a case, the operator is in the unfortunate position of either finding another load securing device or suspending operations until repair or replacement can be had. Moreover, these load securing devices may only be operated in locations and conditions in which the use of a powered wrench are facilitated.

Therefore, in view of the limitations of products currently known in the art, a tremendous need exists for a load securing device that provides quick, efficient, and reliable tensioning of chain, cable, or straps, while drastically reducing the risk of repetitive stress injury to its operator. Applicant's invention, by its novel design provides a solution in view of currently available devices.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present invention to provide a device for securing loads that reduces the risk of repetitive stress injuries to its operator.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device for securing loads that operates quickly via a powered means.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device for securing loads that is efficient in operation.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device for securing loads that is reliable in operation.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device for securing loads that may be manually operated.

In satisfaction of these and other related objectives, the present invention provides a device for mechanically securing a load via tensioning load chain, cables, or straps to a cart, trailer or other equipment moving device. The device provides for quick, efficient, and reliable tensioning of such load members, while significantly reducing the risk of repetitive stress injury to its operator. As will be discussed in the specification to follow, practice of the present invention involves a combination of components so aligned to provide for securing a load either in a powered or manually activated manner.

The preferred embodiment of the present invention incorporates two externally threaded, eye members threaded into each end of an elongated, internally threaded tube member with right-hand threads at one end and left hand threads at the opposite end, as is generally known in the art similar to the United States Patents previously incorporated by reference (alternatively, the eye members may be internally threaded with a correspondingly externally threaded tube member). However, in a novel distinction from the prior art, a ratchet member is attached to the elongated, internally threaded tube member via a first gear member. The first gear member, in turn, meshes with a second gear member, which is attached to an input socket member. These gear members may be sized and configured appropriately in order to obtain the desired output. That is, the ratio between first and second gear members may be such to increase, decrease, or maintain input torque with respect to its output. Regardless the ratio, both gear members are surrounded by a housing member attached to a handle member; the handle member contains a tool holding member as well. Finally, a pin member is included to convert the device from a powered load securing device to a manually operated load securing device as necessary.

Because of the make-up and configuration of the component parts of the present invention, a quick and efficient tensioning of chains, cables, or straps may be accomplished with minimal operator effort. First, the dual screw design, just as the prior art previously incorporated by reference, provides for a longer draw length and quicker tensioning than its single screw counterparts, merely by the fact that the two end members are being drawn together simultaneously rather than one end member being drawn toward a stationary screw member. Secondly, the socket member is configured to mate with a powered ratchet, which is held in place by the tool holding member. This configuration not only provides for a faster tensioning by the combination of supplying a power source to provide for the application of torque to the elongated tube member and the dual screw draw system, but it also provides an operating manner that drastically reduces the risk of repetitive stress injury because the powered ratchet is supported by the device itself throughout the tensioning process.

Additionally, the novel and unobvious configuration provides for a back-up, manual operation, in the event of power loss or in conditions wherein a power source is not readily available. In such a circumstance, the supplied pin member is used to constrain the second gear member to prevent movement of the second gear member relative to both the handle member and to the first gear member. This allows manual application of torque to the elongated tube member via the operator's application of force to the extended handle member. Finally, the extended handle member is configured such that an additional extension can easily be added in order to allow greater torque to be manually applied with less effort by the operator.

In summary, the device of the present invention provides a novel, yet unobvious configuration of component parts to allow both a near effortless, powered method of securing and releasing a load as well as a secondary manual method of securing a load when a power source is unavailable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Applicant's invention may be further understood from a description of the accompanying drawings, wherein unless otherwise specified, like referenced numerals are intended to depict like components in the various views.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the device of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the present invention showing the use of a powered ratchet.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the present invention taken along section line 3-3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a load securing device is shown and is generally designated by numeral 10. As best seen in FIG. 1, device (10) contains a load binder mechanism (12) as known in the art, similar to those previously incorporated by reference. The basic components of which include: an internally threaded, elongated tube member (14) with right-hand threads at one end and left-hand threads at the opposite end; a first externally threaded end member (16); and a second externally threaded end member (18). As previously mentioned, elongated tube member (14) may alternatively be externally threaded with corresponding first and second internally threaded end members (16,18). In the preferred embodiment, the end members (16,18) are in the general configuration of an eye bolt; however, other standard end configurations are contemplated, as are presently known in the art. The aforementioned members are configured such that when end members (16,18) are each attached to chain, cable, or straps, such that neither is allowed to rotate, tube member (14) may be rotated in a specified direction, which, in turn, draws end members (16,18) toward one another, or tube member (14) may be rotated in the opposite direction, which pushes end members (16,18) apart from one another.

As best seen in FIG. 3, a first gear member (36) is attached to elongate tube member (14) in a suitable load bearing manner as known in the art, such as welding, keying or pinning. A second gear member (38) is attached to a driving socket member (24), and it is configured to mesh with first gear member (36). Similar to first gear member (36), second gear member (38) is attached to driving socket member (24) in a suitable load bearing manner as known in the art. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 3, gear members (36,38) are spur gears, having the same pitch diameter and the same number of teeth. However, as previously mentioned, other embodiments of the present invention include the use of various gearing mechanisms as known in the art as well as differing pitch diameters and numbers of teeth, in order to vary the mechanical advantage as desired.

Referring back to FIG. 1, gear members (36,38) as well as their attachment sections with elongate tube member (14) and driving socket (24), respectively, are housed within housing member (20). Attached to housing member (20) are extended handle member (22) and ratchet support member (26). Also contained within housing member (20) are holes for pin member (28). Housing member (20), extended handle member (22), and ratchet support member (26) may be machined, cast, or fabricated or any combination thereof, as necessary.

In the preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, driving socket (24) is a 3/8 inch square drive as known in the art; however, various sizes and types of drive members are contemplated as well as known in the art. In fact, the exact configuration of driving socket (24) may be manipulated as necessary in order to best accommodate a standard power ratchet member (34), as shown in FIG. 2. As best seen in FIG. 2, powered ratchet (34) may be engaged with driving socket (24) and placed in ratchet support member (26). Finally, as best seen in FIG. 1, the preferred embodiment also contains pin strap (30) attached to pin (28), at a distal end of pin strap (30) and attached to housing (20) at pin strap (30) distal end via attachment member (32). In the preferred embodiment, attachment member (32) is a cap screw, but attachment member may alternatively be any suitable attachment mechanism as known in the art.

The novelty and unobviousness of the present invention is best understood with a description of its operation. First, end members (16,18) are constrained to each end of the load chain, cable, or strap via one of the numerous, suitable mechanisms as known in the art. Next, a powered ratchet (34) is engaged with driving socket (24), and it is positioned into ratchet support member (26), while housing member (20) and extended handle member (22) are configured into a constrained position with respect to the load or cart to prevent its rotation. Pin member (28) must, at this point, be placed into power position (28-B), as shown in FIG. 3. At this point, powered ratchet (34) is actuated to rotate driving socket (24), which in turn rotates second gear member (38) through their attachment mechanism. Second gear member (38) transfers the torque applied to it to first gear member (36), which in turn transfers the torque to elongated tube member (14). This results in end members (16,18) being drawn toward one another; and hence, the chain, cable, or strap securing the load is tensioned. Conversely, reversing the direction of powered ratchet (34) forces end members (16,18) apart, resulting in quickly releasing tension on the load.

In addition to its powered operation, the device of the present invention may be used for manually securing a load with the mere movement of pin member (28). As best seen in FIG. 3, in order for manual operation to be initiated, pin member (28) must be engaged with second gear member (38) by locating pin member (28) in position (28-A). In this configuration, gear members (36,38) are locked into position not only with respect to one another, but also with respect to elongate tube member (14), housing member (20), and extended handle member (22). This allows the operator to either increase or decrease the tension in the chain or cable securing the load by manually exerting force to extended handle (22), thereby rotating elongated tube member (14). Finally, although not shown, extended handle member (22) is configured such that an extension may be added thereto, in order to increase the moment applied to elongate tube member (14).

Although the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, this description is not meant to be construed in a limited sense. Various modifications of the disclosed embodiments, as well as alternative embodiments of the inventions will become apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to the description of the invention. It is, therefore, contemplated that the appended claims will cover such modifications that fall within the scope of the invention.