Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR CAPTURING WOOD PLANKS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A deck system includes a plurality of spaced apart cross members, at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface, and a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members. Retainers secure the decking members to the cross members without the use of mechanical fasteners. The decking extrusions limit movement of the wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the wood plank to the cross members without the use of mechanical fasteners.



Inventors:
Perkowski, Michael T. (Dover, OH, US)
Blakely, Michael J. (Dover, OH, US)
Comella, Michael J. (Dover, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/048763
Publication Date:
09/18/2008
Filing Date:
03/14/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/591.2
International Classes:
E04F15/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KWIECINSKI, RYAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PORTER WRIGHT MORRIS & ARTHUR, LLP (COLUMBUS, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A deck system comprising, in combination: a plurality of spaced apart cross members; at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface; a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members; retainers securing the decking members to the cross members without the use of mechanical fasteners; and wherein the decking extrusions limit movement of the wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the wood plank to the cross members.

2. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein the wood plank is secured to the cross-members without the use of mechanical fasteners.

3. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein a first one of the deck extrusions is located on a first lateral side of the wood plank and a second one of the deck extrusions is located on a second lateral side of the wood plank opposite the first lateral side and wherein at least a portion of the first and second deck extrusions are C-shaped in cross section and receiving lateral side of the wood plank therein.

4. The deck system according to claim 3, wherein the wood plank and the first and second extrusions have heights that are substantially the same.

5. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the decking extrusions has at least one protrusion that penetrates the wood plank to form a longitudinal interference which limits longitudinal movement between the decking extrusion and the wood plank.

6. The deck system according to claim 5, wherein the at least one protrusion is a longitudinally extending row of teeth.

7. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein at least one decking extrusion has at least one protrusion penetrating the wood plank to form a lateral interference which limits relative lateral movement between the decking extrusion and the wood plank.

8. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein at least one decking extrusion has at least one protrusion penetrating the wood plank to form a vertical interference which limits relative vertical movement between the decking extrusion and the wood plank.

9. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein the wood plank is trapezoidal shaped in cross section.

10. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein there is a plurality of the wood planks and the support surface is formed entirely by the wood planks.

11. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein there is a plurality of the wood planks and the support surface is formed by alternating ones of the wood planks and the decking extrusions in the lateral direction.

12. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein the wood plank is located within a cavity of one of the decking extrusions so that only an upper surface of the wood plank is exposed.

13. The deck system according to claim 12, wherein the wood plank has a thickness less than a thickness of the cavity.

14. The deck system according to claim 12, wherein the wood plank substantially fills the entire cavity.

15. The deck system according to claim 1, wherein a first one of the deck extrusions is located on and engaging a first lateral side of the wood plank and a second one of the deck extrusions is located on and engaging a second lateral side of the wood plank opposite the first lateral side, wherein a connector laterally extends between the first and second deck extrusions to increase lateral stiffness of the deck system, and wherein the connecter is located entirely between adjacent cross members.

16. A deck system comprising, in combination: a plurality of spaced apart cross members; at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface; a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members; wherein the decking extrusions limit movement of the at least one wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the at least one wood plank to the cross members; and wherein at least one of the decking extrusions has at least one protrusion that penetrates the wood plank to form a longitudinal interference which limits relative longitudinal movement therebetween.

17. The deck system according to claim 16, wherein the at least one protrusion is a longitudinally extending row of teeth.

18. A deck system comprising, in combination: a plurality of spaced apart cross members; at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface; a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members; wherein the decking extrusions limit movement of the at least one wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the at least one wood plank to the cross members; and wherein the wood plank is located within a cavity of one of the decking extrusions so that only an upper surface of the at least one wood plank is exposed.

19. The deck system according to claim 18, wherein the wood plank has a thickness less than a thickness of the cavity.

20. The deck system according to claim 18, wherein the wood plank substantially fills the entire cavity.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the priority benefit of Provisional Patent Application No. 60/894,783 filed on Mar. 14, 2007, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to systems and methods for securing wood planks to underlying support structures and, more particularly, relates securing decks, floors, or other support surfaces.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many cargo carriers such as, for example, platform trailers, van trailers, vans, shipping containers and the like have support surfaces that are partially or totally formed by wood planks. For example, current platform semi-trailers are typically constructed using a beam and cross member structural system. Two main beams typically span the longitudinal length of the platform (usually forty eight feet) and cross members typically span the transverse width of the platform (usually eight feet or eight feet and six inches). The cross members typically have a spacing of six to twenty-four inches. The main beams and the cross members cooperate to create a grid or support structure for supporting the floor or deck of the platform. The deck is typically secured directly to the cross members.

The deck usually includes wood planks or boards, extruded aluminum decking or planks, or a combination of the two. The majority of currently produced platform trailers utilize extruded aluminum decking with two to four wood planks (typically referred to as “nailers”). The wood planks and the aluminum decking are typically secured directly to the cross members using mechanical fasteners such as nails, screws, or the like.

Many factors contribute to movement of the deck relative to the cross members during operation such as temperature changes and deflection. This movement causes shear forces to occur at the connections of the deck. These shear forces can eventually cause the connections to fail. U.S. Pat. No. 7,181,889, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein in its entirety by reference, discloses one solution to this problem. Snap-on inserts are used to secure the aluminum planking to the cross members without the use mechanical fasteners. While this solution effectively secures aluminum decking without mechanical fasteners, wood planks must still be secured using mechanical fasteners.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an improved system and method for capturing wood planks without the use of mechanical fasteners.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Disclosed herein are deck systems and methods which overcome at least some of the above-noted problems of the related art. Disclosed is a deck system which comprises, in combination, a plurality of spaced apart cross members, at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface, and a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members. Retainers secure the decking members to the cross members without the use of mechanical fasteners. The decking extrusions limit movement of the wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the wood plank to the cross members.

Also disclosed is a deck system which comprises, in combination, a plurality of spaced apart cross members, at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface, and a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members. The decking extrusions limit movement of the at least one wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the at least one wood plank to the cross members. At least one of the decking extrusions has at least one protrusion that penetrates the wood plank to form a longitudinal interference which limits relative longitudinal movement therebetween.

Further disclosed is a deck system which comprises, in combination, a plurality of spaced apart cross members, at least one wood plank extending perpendicular to the cross members and at least partially forming a support surface, and a plurality of decking extrusions supported on the cross members and extending perpendicular to the cross members. The decking extrusions limit movement of the at least one wood plank relative to the cross members in a direction away from the cross members to secure the at least one wood plank to the cross members. The wood plank is located within a cavity of one of the decking extrusions so that only an upper surface of the at least one wood plank is exposed.

From the foregoing disclosure and the following more detailed description of various preferred embodiments it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention provides a significant advance in the technology and art of deck systems. Particularly significant in this regard is the potential the invention affords for providing a high quality, reliable, low cost assembly with rapid assembly time that eliminates or reduce the need for mechanical fasteners. Additional features and advantages of various preferred embodiments will be better understood in view of the detailed description provided below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and further features of the present invention will be apparent with reference to the following description and drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is an end elevational view of a deck of a platform trailer according to a first embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged, fragmented view of a portion of the deck of FIG. 1 having a wood plank;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged elevational view of a first extrusion of the deck of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged elevational view of a second extrusion of the deck of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged elevational view of a third extrusion of the deck of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged elevational view of a fourth extrusion of the deck of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged elevational view of a fifth extrusion of the deck of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged elevational view of an extrusion for securing adjacent wood planks or nailers according to a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is an end elevational view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to a third embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged elevational view of a first extrusion of the deck of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged elevational view of a second extrusion of the deck of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged elevational view of a third extrusion of the deck of FIG. 9;

FIG. 13 is an end elevational view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 14-14 of FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is an end elevational view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 16 is an end elevational view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 17 is an end elevational view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 18-18 of FIG. 17;

FIG. 19 is an end elevational view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to an eighth embodiment of the present invention, wherein some components are removed for clarity;

FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 21-21 of FIG. 20;

FIG. 21 is cross-sectional view of a portion of a deck of a platform trailer according to a ninth embodiment of the present invention, wherein the cross-section is taken at a cross member;

FIG. 22 is cross-sectional view of a portion of the deck of FIG. 21, wherein the cross-section is taken between cross members; and

FIG. 23 is cross-sectional view similar to FIG. 22 but showing a variation of the extrusion.

It should be understood that the appended drawings are not necessarily to scale, presenting a somewhat simplified representation of various preferred features illustrative of the basic principles of the invention. The specific design features of the deck systems and methods disclosed herein, including, for example, specific dimensions, orientations, locations, and shapes of the various components, will be determined in part by the particular intended application and use environment. Certain features of the illustrated embodiments have been enlarged or distorted relative to others to facilitate visualization and clear understanding. In particular, thin features may be thickened, for example, for clarity or illustration. All references to direction and position, unless otherwise indicated, refer to the orientation of the deck systems illustrated in the drawings. In general, up or upward generally refers to an upward direction within the plane of the paper in FIG. 1, and down or downward generally refers to a downward direction within the plane of the paper in FIG. 1. Also in general, fore or forward refers to a direction toward the front of the cargo carrier that is, a direction into the plane of the paper in FIG. 1, and aft or rearward refers to a direction toward the rear of the cargo carrier, that is, a direction out of the plane of the paper in FIG. 1. Also in general, lateral or transverse refers to a side to side direction of the cargo carrier, that is, generally side ways or left to right within the plane of the paper in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art, that is, to those who have knowledge or experience in this area of technology, that many uses and design variations are possible for the improved deck systems and methods disclosed herein. The following detailed discussion of various alternative and preferred embodiments will illustrate the general principles of the invention with reference to a system and method for securing a deck of a cargo carrier such as a platform semi-trailer. Other embodiments suitable for other applications, such as any other suitable type of cargo carriers such as trailers, trucks, van trailers, vans, locomotive cars, ships, planes, shipping containers, and the like having floor decking supported by structural members as well as any other decks forming support surfaces such as docks, floors, residential decks, concrete forms and the like forming support surfaces will be apparent to those skilled in the art given the benefit of this disclosure.

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1 to 7 illustrate a system and method for securing a deck to a cargo carrier 10 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The illustrated cargo carrier 10 is a platform semi-trailer and includes a pair of parallel and laterally spaced-apart main beams 12. The illustrated main beams 12 span the entire longitudinal length of the cargo carrier 10. The illustrated longitudinal length is about forty eight feet but any other suitable length can be utilized. The illustrated main beams 12 are I-beams having, in cross-section, a vertically-extending main web or wall 14 and horizontally-extending upper and lower flanges 16, 18 at the top and bottom of the main web. It is noted that the main beams 12 can alternatively have any other suitable shape. The main beams 12 can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, steel, aluminum, composite materials, or the like.

A plurality of parallel, laterally extending, and longitudinally spaced-apart cross beams or members 20 are secured to the main beams 12 to create a grid or support structure for supporting a floor or deck 22 forming a deck or support surface. The cross members 20 can be secured to the main beams 12 in any suitable manner such as, for example, welding, mechanical fasteners, or the like. The illustrated cross members 20 essentially span the entire transverse or lateral width of the cargo carrier 10 which is preferably about eight feet to about eight feet and six inches but any other suitable width can alternatively be utilized. The cross members 20 preferably have a longitudinal spacing of about six to about twenty-four inches but any other suitable spacing can be utilized. The illustrated cross-members 20 are I-beams having, in cross-section a vertically-extending main web or wall 24 and horizontally-extending upper and lower flanges 26, 28 at the top and bottom of the main web 24. It is noted that the cross members 20 can alternatively have any other suitable shape. The cross members 20 can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, steel, aluminum, composite materials, or the like.

The illustrated cargo carrier 10 also includes side rails 30 secured to the ends of the cross members 20. The illustrated side rails 30 extend the entire longitudinal length of the cargo carrier 10. The side rails 30 can be secured to the cross members 20 in any suitable manner such as, for example, welding, mechanical fasteners, or the like. The side rails 30 can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, steel, aluminum, composite materials, or the like. The illustrated side rails 30 are generally C-shaped in cross-section and receive the ends of the cross members 20 therein so that upper flanges of the side rails 34 are positioned above the upper flanges 26 of the cross members 20 generally flush with the deck 22 supported by the cross members 20 and the main beam upper flanges 16 and lower flanges of the side rails 34 are positioned below the lower flanges 28 of the cross members 20. The illustrated side rails 30 have a plurality of longitudinally spaced-apart stake pockets 32 secured to an outer side thereof and rub rails 34 secured to the outer sides of the stake pockets 32. The stake pockets 32 and the rub rails 34 can be secured in any suitable manner such as, for example, welding, mechanical fasteners, or the like. The stake pockets 32 and the rub rails 34 can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, steel, aluminum, composite materials, or the like.

The cargo carrier 10 preferably includes end or nose and tail beams secured to the ends of the main beams 12. The nose and tail beams can extend the entire lateral width between the side rails 30 of the cargo carrier 10. The nose and tail beams can be secured to the main beams 12 and the side rails 30 in any suitable manner such as, for example, welding, mechanical fasteners, or the like. The nose and tail beams can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, steel, aluminum, composite materials, or the like. The nose and tail beams are preferably positioned so that upper surfaces of the nose and tail beams are generally flush with the support surface of the floor deck 22, the upper surface of the side rails 30, and the upper surface of the main beam upper flanges 16.

The illustrated support surface of the deck or floor 22 is formed by top surfaces of the two main beam upper flanges 16, the top surfaces of the side rails 30, upper surfaces of a plurality of decking extrusions 36 to 44, and upper surfaces of a plurality of wood planks or nailers 50. It is noted that alternatively any other suitable combination and/or quantities can be utilized such as, for example, a greater or fewer number of the wood planks 50 can be utilized. The illustrated main beams 12, side rails 30, decking extrusions 36-44 and wood planks 50 extend the entire longitudinal length between the nose and tail beams and are positioned side by side to form the generally continuous deck or support surface for supporting cargo thereon.

The illustrated decking extrusions 36 to 44 are aluminum extrusions but it is noted that the decking extrusions can alternatively be formed in any other suitable manner and can comprise any other suitable material. It is noted that the illustrated extrusions 36 to 44 include a plurality of support walls 52 downwardly extending from horizontal main walls 54 which partially form the floor deck support surface. The illustrated support walls 52 are generally inverted “T”-shaped having lower flanges 56 to support the main wall 54 above the cross members 20. Pockets are formed between the support walls 52. Lateral sides of the illustrated decking extrusions 36 to 44 are sized and shaped to interlock with each other and the main beam upper flanges 16 and the side rails 30. It is noted that the decking extrusions 35 to 44 can alternatively be sized and shaped in any other suitable manner.

The illustrated decking extrusions 36 to 44 are supported on the cross members 20 with the flanges 56 directly engaging the upper flange 26 of the cross members 20. The illustrated decking extrusions 36 to 44 are secured to the cross members 20 by inserts or retainers 58. The illustrated retainers 58 are sized and shaped to extend into the inner pockets of the decking extrusions 36 to 44 and interlock with the flanges 56 of the decking extrusions 36 to 44 at the inner pockets. See U.S. Pat. No. 7,181,889, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein in its entirety by reference, for a more detailed description of the illustrated retainer 58. The illustrated retainers 58 form a fastenerless, snap-lock connection with the cross-members 20 so that the decking extrusions are secured to the cross members 20 without the use of mechanical fasteners. It is noted that the decking extrusions 36 to 44 can alternatively be secured to the cross members 20 in any other suitable manner.

The illustrated retainers 58 comprise a first or lower member and a separate second or upper member. It is noted, however, that these retainers 58 can alternatively be formed as a single component or more than two components. The illustrated first retainer member is sized and shaped to be secured to the decking flanges 56 with a snap-fit connection while the second member is sized and shaped to be secured to the cross-member 20 with a snap-fit connection while retaining the first retainer member to the cross member 20. The term “Snap-fit connection” is used in this specification and the claims to mean a connection between two separate components wherein the two components are moved toward one another during assembly such that at least a portion of one or both of the components resiliently deflects as the components are brought together to eliminate an interference therebetween and resiliently reestablish the interference once the components are moved past the interference to secure the components together in the direction of the interference.

The illustrated retainers 58, along with the extrusion interconnections with the main beams 14 and the side rails 30, limit or substantially prevent vertical movement of the decking extrusions 36 to 44 relative to the cross members 20. Longitudinal movement of the decking extrusions 36 to 44 relative to the cross members 20 is limited by the nose and tail beams. It is also noted that the illustrated retainers 58 are not secured together and each retainer 58 engages and secures only one of the decking extrusions 36 to 44.

The illustrated wood planks 50 are elongate planks having planar upper and lower sides and lateral sides at oblique angles to the upper and lower sides. The illustrated wood planks 50 are trapezoid or “dove-tail” shaped in cross-section. The wood planks 50 can be of any suitable thickness but preferably have a thickness smaller than the extrusions to save weight. It is believed the wood planks 50 can have a thickness of about 0.5 inches. The wood planks 50 can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, natural wood, wood composite or the like.

The illustrated wood planks 50 are captured by the decking extrusions 36 to 44 to secure the wood planks 50 to the cross members 20 without the use of mechanical fasteners such as nails, screws or the like. The capturing decking extrusions 36, 42 each form a cavity 59 for receiving the wood planks 50 that is generally open at its upward side so that the wood plank 50 is generally flush with and forming the deck surface. The illustrated cavities 59 for the wood planks 50 are provided with a plurality of laterally spaced apart “T”-shaped support flanges 60 which form a support surface for the wood planks 50. The flanges 60 can be of any desired size and shape. The illustrated wood planks 50 have a thickness less than a thickness of the decking extrusions 36, 42 so that the wood planks 50 are supported on the flanges 60 within the cavities 59 with their upper surfaces generally flush with the deck surface so that there are spaces formed between the bottom of the wood plank 50 and a bottom wall 62 of the extrusions 36, 42 forming the cavity 59. Each lateral side of the cavity 59 is provided with a retaining flange 62. The illustrated retaining flanges 62 each have an angled lower surface at an oblique angle with the deck surface that cooperates with the side edges of the wood planks 50. The support flanges 60 and the retaining flanges 62 are preferably sized and shaped to closely receive the wood plank 50 to substantially limit vertical and lateral movement of the wood plank 50 relative to the decking extrusion 36, 42 while permitting longitudinal movement of the wood plank 50 relative to the decking extrusion 36, 42. It is noted that the cavity 59 is fully enclosed about the wood plank 50 except for the open upper side so the only the upper side of the wood plank 50 is exposed. The wood planks 50 are installed into the extrusions 36, 42 by inserting them in the longitudinal direction through forward or rearward ends of the extrusions 36, 42.

From the foregoing disclosure and detailed description of certain preferred embodiments, it is apparent that above described deck system totally eliminates mechanical fasteners when the decking extrusions 36-44 utilize retainers 58 that do not comprise mechanical fasteners, reduces weight by enabling the use of thinner wood planks 50, provides greater strength by having inverted “T” shaped pockets at the wood planks 50, and only exposes upper surfaces of the wood planks 50.

FIG. 8 illustrates a decking extrusion 64 according to second preferred embodiment of the present invention. The illustrated decking extrusion 64 is secured to the cross members 20 with one of the retainers 58 therein. It is noted, however, that the decking extrusion 64 can alternatively be secured in any other suitable manner. The decking extrusion 64 retains wood planks 50 on both lateral sides with the same dovetails as described hereinabove. Thus, an entire deck of wood planks 50 can be secured to the cross members 20 without the use of mechanical fasteners such as nails, screws and the like. Alternatively, a mix of mechanical fastener held and fastenerless retainer held decking extrusions 64 can alternatively be employed to greatly reduce the number of mechanical fasteners used to secure the wood planks 50. In either case, no mechanical fasteners are used to directly hold the wood planks 50. It is noted that the illustrated deck or support surface is formed by alternating decking extrusions 64 and wood planks 50 in the lateral direction but can alternatively be substantially all wood by providing the wood planks 50 with upper flanges that extends over the decking extrusions 64.

FIGS. 9 to 12 illustrate a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a third embodiment of the present invention. The third embodiment is substantially the same as the first embodiment described above except for the size and shape of the wood planks 50A and the extrusions 68-72. The illustrated wood planks 50A have a thickness substantially equal to a thickness of the cavities 59 of the decking extrusions 68 so that the wood planks 50A are supported on the bottom wall 61 with their upper surfaces generally flush with and forming the deck surface. Formed in this manner the wood planks 50A generally fill the entire spaces formed by the cavities 59. The illustrated bottom wall 61 is provided with corrugations to form spaces for drainage and airflow between the wood plank 50A and a bottom wall 61 forming the cavity 59. Each lateral side of the cavity 59 is provided with a horizontally-extending retaining flange 62 cantilevered laterally inward from the side walls of the cavity 59. The illustrated retaining flanges 62 each have a horizontal upper surface forming a portion of the deck surface and a horizontal lower surface that engages the top side of the wood planks 50A. The cavity 59 is preferably sized and shaped to closely receive the wood plank 50A to substantially limit vertical and lateral movement of the wood plank 50A relative to the decking extrusion 68 while permitting longitudinal movement of the wood plank 50A relative to the decking extrusion 68. Each illustrated retaining flange 62 is provided with a downwardly-extending protrusion or finger 74 near the free end of the retaining flange 62 and extends the longitudinal length of the extrusion 68. The protrusion 74 is sized and shaped to extend into the wood plank 50 to further limit lateral and vertical movement of the wood plank 50A relative to the extrusion 68. The wood planks 50A are installed into the extrusions 68 by inserting them in the longitudinal direction through forward or rearward ends of the extrusions 68. As the wood planks 50A are longitudinally inserted into the extrusion 68, the protrusions 74 cut or penetrate into the wood plank 50 to ensure a tight fit therebetween.

The illustrated wood planks 50A are elongate planks having planar upper and lower sides and planar lateral sides substantially perpendicular to the upper and lower sides. The illustrated wood planks 50A are generally rectangular shaped in cross-section. The wood planks 50A can be of any suitable thickness to substantially fill the cavity 59. It is believed the wood planks 50 can have a thickness of about 1 inch. The illustrated wood planks 50A are provided with rectangular-shaped undercuts or notches 76 at the lateral edges of the upper surface. The notches 76 are sized and shaped to receive the retaining flanges 62 so that the upper surface of the wood plank 50A is substantially flush with the upper surfaces of the retaining flanges 62. The wood planks 50A can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, natural wood, wood composite or the like.

It is noted that adjacent decking extrusions 68, 70 are provided with a cooperating tongue and groove 78, 80. The tongue 78 is vertically inserted into the adjacent groove 80 with a press fit so that the decking extrusions 68, 70 are secured together against relative motion therebetween. Formed in this manner, sub-assemblies including the decking extrusions 68-72, the wood plank 50A and the retainers 58 can be pre-assembled for later attachment to the cross members 20. For example, three sub-assembles can be pre-assembled and then secured to the cross-members 20 by vertically lowering them onto the cross members 20 and snapping the retainers 58 onto the cross members 20 to secure the sub-assemblies and to form the deck 22.

FIGS. 13 and 14 illustrate a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention. The fourth embodiment is substantially the same as the third embodiment described above except the protrusions 74 are formed to limit longitudinal movement of the wood planks 50A and the extrusion 68 is formed by three separate extrusions 68A, 68B, 68C secured together. The protrusions 74 are sized and shaped to cooperate with the wood planks 58A to form an interference therebetween in the longitudinal direction to substantially prevent relative longitudinal movement between the extrusion 68 and the wood plank 50A. The illustrated protrusion 74 is the form of a row of teeth 82 extending in the longitudinal direction. The illustrated teeth 82 are generally saw-tooth shaped or triangular-shaped but any other suitable shape can be utilized. The illustrated extrusion 68 is provided with additional protrusions 74 on the bottom wall 51 that are sized and shaped the same or similar to the protrusions 74 of the retaining flanges 62. While the illustrated extrusion 68 has four protrusions 74, two engaging the top of the wood plank 50A and two engaging the bottom of the wood plank 50A, it is noted that any other suitable quantities and locations can be alternatively utilized. It is also noted that the wood planks 50A cannot be longitudinally inserted into the extrusion 68 because it would not form or destroy any longitudinal interlock between the wood plank 50A and the protrusions 74.

The illustrated extrusion 68 includes left and right extrusions 68A, 68B which form the side walls of the cavity 59 and a bottom extrusion 68C which forms the bottom wall 61 of the cavity 59. The lateral sides of the bottom extrusion 68C are provided with upwardly extending flanges or tongues 84 which are sized and shaped to be press fit into downwardly-facing grooves 86 to form a press-fit connection. With the press-fit connection, relative movement therebetween is substantially prevented. It is noted that the tongue and grooves 84, 86 extend the entire longitudinal length of the extrusions 68A, 68B, 68C. It is noted that the bottom extrusion 68C can alternatively be secured to the left and right extrusions 68A, 68B in any other suitable manner. At assembly, the wood plank 50A is vertically brought into engagement with the left and right extrusions 68A, 68B so that the protrusions 74 cut or penetrate the wood plank 50A and form the longitudinal interlocks therebetween. The bottom extrusion 68C is then vertically brought into engagement with the left and right extrusions 68A, 68B so that the tongues 84 are inserted into the grooves 86 with a press fit to secure the extrusions 68A, 68B, 68C together against relative motion therebetween and so that the protrusions 74 cut or penetrate the wood plank 50A to form the longitudinal interlocks therebetween. Assembled in this manner, the protrusions 74 cut or penetrate the wood plank 50A to ensure a tight fit in both the vertical and longitudinal directions.

FIG. 15 illustrates a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention. The fifth embodiment is substantially the same as the fourth embodiment described above except the wood planks 50B extend above and over the side extrusions 68A, 68B to adjacent wood planks 50B so that the wood planks 50B form the entire deck surface. The illustrated wood planks 50B have an upper portion 88 that extends above the notches 76 so that it extends above the side extrusions 68A, 68B. The upper portion 88 has a lateral width that is larger than the main portion of the wood plank 50B within the cavity 59 so that the upper portion 88 extend to or near adjacent wood planks 50B. Formed in this manner, the deck surface is located above the extrusions 68-72 and the extrusions 68-72 form no portion of the deck surface. It is noted that during assembly, the side extrusions 68A, 68B and the wood planks 50B are laterally brought into engagement so that the protrusions 74 and the wood planks 50B form the longitudinal interferences.

FIG. 16 illustrates a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention. The sixth embodiment is substantially the same as the third embodiment described above except that a portion of the bottom wall 61 of the extrusion 68 is eliminated so that there are two separate extrusions 68D, 68E securing the wood plank 50C and the wood plank 50C has a thickness or height substantially equal to the extrusions 68D, 68E. Formed in this manner the bottom wall of each extrusion 68D, 68E is sized and shaped substantially the same as the upper retaining flanges 62 to form lower retaining flanges 90 so that engagement portions of the extrusions 68D, 68E are generally C-shaped in cross-section with the open side facing and receiving the wood plank 50C therein.

The illustrated wood planks 50C are elongate planks having planar upper and lower sides and planar lateral sides substantially perpendicular to the upper and lower sides. The illustrated wood planks 50C are generally rectangular shaped in cross-section. The wood planks 50C can be of any suitable thickness to be substantially the same height as the extrusions. It is believed the wood planks 50 can have a thickness of about 1⅛ inches. The illustrated wood planks 50C are provided with rectangular-shaped undercuts or notches 76, 90 at the lateral edges of the upper surface and at the lower surface. The upper notches 76 are sized and shaped to receive the upper retaining flanges 62 so that the upper surface of the wood plank 50C is substantially flush with the upper surface of the upper retaining flanges 62. The lower notches 92 are sized and shaped to receive the lower retaining flanges 92 so that the lower surface of the wood plank 50C is substantially flush with the lower surface of the lower retaining flanges 90. The wood planks 50C can comprise any suitable material such as, for example, natural wood, wood composite or the like.

FIGS. 17 and 18 illustrate a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention. The seventh embodiment is substantially the same as the sixth embodiment described above except that the upper and lower retaining flanges 62, 90 are provided with protrusions 74 formed to limit longitudinal movement of the wood planks 50C. The protrusions 74 are sized and shaped to cooperate with the wood plank 50C to form an interference therebetween in the longitudinal direction to substantially prevent relative longitudinal movement between the extrusions 68D, 68E and the wood plank 50C. The illustrated protrusion 74 is the form of a row of teeth 82 extending in the longitudinal direction. The illustrated teeth 82 are generally saw-tooth shaped or triangular-shaped but any other suitable shape can be utilized. While the illustrated wood plank 50C is engaged by four protrusions 74, it is noted that any other suitable quantities and locations can be alternatively utilized. It is also noted that the wood planks 50C cannot be longitudinally inserted into the extrusions 68D, 68E because it would not form or destroy any longitudinal interlock between the wood plank 50C and the protrusions 74. At assembly, the wood plank 50C is laterally brought into engagement with the extrusions 68D, 68E so that the protrusions 74 cut or penetrate the wood plank 50C and form the longitudinal interlocks therebetween. Assembled in this manner, the protrusions 74 cut and penetrate the wood plank 50 to ensure a tight fit in both the vertical and longitudinal directions.

FIGS. 19 and 20 illustrate a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to an eighth embodiment of the present invention. The eighth embodiment is substantially the same as the seventh embodiment described above except that the lower retaining flanges 90A are formed as a separate extrusion and secured to the extrusions 68D, 68E to prevent relative movement therebetween. The outer lateral side of the lower retaining flanges 90A are each provided with upwardly extending flange or tongue 78 which are sized and shaped to be press fit into a downwardly-facing groove 80 in the extrusion 68D, 68E to form a press-fit connection. With the press-fit connection, relative movement therebetween is substantially prevented. It is noted that the tongue and grooves 78, 80 extend the entire longitudinal length of the extrusions 68D, 68E, 90A. It is noted that the lower retaining flanges 90A can alternatively be secured to the extrusions 68D, 68E in any other suitable manner. At assembly, the wood plank 50C is vertically brought into engagement with the left and right extrusions 68D, 68E so that the protrusions 74 cut and penetrate the wood plank 50C and form the longitudinal interlocks therebetween. The retaining flanges 90A are then vertically brought into engagement with the left and right extrusions 68D, 68E so that the tongues 78 are inserted into the grooves 80 with a press fit to secure the extrusions 68D, 68E, 90A together against relative motion therebetween and so that the protrusions 68D, 68E, 90A cut and penetrate the wood plank 50C to form the longitudinal interlocks therebetween. Assembled in this manner, the protrusions 74 cut and penetrate the wood plank 50C to ensure a tight fit in both the vertical and longitudinal directions.

FIGS. 21 and 22 illustrate a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a ninth embodiment of the present invention. The ninth embodiment is substantially the same as the seventh embodiment described above except that connecters 94 are provided between the extrusions 68D, 68E between the cross members 20 to provide additional stiffness to the system in the lateral direction. The illustrated connectors 94 are extrusions having a bottom wall 96 and upwardly extending flanges or tongues 78 on lateral ends of the bottom wall 96 which are sized and shaped to be press fit into downwardly-facing grooves 80 in the extrusion to form a press-fit connection. With the press-fit connection, relative movement therebetween is substantially prevented. It is noted that the tongue and grooves 78, 80 extend the entire longitudinal length of the extrusions 68D, 68E, 94. Any suitable quantity of connectors 94 can be provided and the connectors 94 can have any suitable length that fits longitudinally between the cross-members 20. It is noted that the connectors 94 can alternatively have any other suitable shape and can alternatively be secured to the extrusions 68D, 68E in any other suitable manner.

FIG. 23 illustrates a portion of a cargo carrier 10 according to a variation of the ninth embodiment of the present invention. This variation is substantially the same as the ninth embodiment described above except that connecters 94 are sized and shaped to form a gap or air space 96 below the wood plank 50C between the wood plank 50C and the bottom wall 96. The air space 96 allows nails to extend entirely through the wood plank 50C when driven into the wood plank 50C from above to assist in securing cargo to the deck 22.

It is noted that each of the features of the various embodiments described above can be used with each of the other embodiments. That is, the features of the various embodiments are interchangeable. For example, each of the embodiments can be adapted to have the deck surface be formed entirely by wood planks like the fifth embodiment.

From the foregoing disclosure and detailed description of certain disclosed embodiments, it is also apparent that various modifications, additions and other alternative embodiments are possible without departing from the true scope and spirit of the present invention. The embodiments discussed were chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the present invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the present invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the benefit to which they are fairly, legally, and equitably entitled.