Title:
HINGELESS FENCE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hingeless fence assembly is described as having a free-standing post and a tubular member. The free-standing post extends upwardly from a hole in the ground and is positioned within the ground to a depth sufficient to provide the necessary stability. The tubular member is rotatably received over the free-standing post and has a greater diameter than the free-standing post. The tubular member is free to rotate about the free-standing post.



Inventors:
Cozby, Christopher A. (Aubrey, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/924428
Publication Date:
10/02/2008
Filing Date:
10/25/2007
Assignee:
440 FENCE COMPANY, INC. (Aubrey, TX, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MACARTHUR, VICTOR L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARY PETERSON (OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hingeless fence assembly, comprising: a first free-standing post extending upwardly; a moveable fence portion having a tubular member being operable for rotatable coupling over the first free-standing post.

2. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein the first free-standing post is positioned within a hole in the ground to a depth sufficient to provide stability to the fence assembly.

3. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein the tubular member has an inside diameter greater than an outside diameter of the first free-standing post and sufficient to allow the tubular member to rotate about the first free-standing post.

4. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 3, wherein the tubular member has an inside diameter of about 4 inches and the first free-standing post has an outside diameter of about 3½ inches.

5. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein the tubular member comprises an end cap at an end thereof, an internal surface of the end cap sitting on an edge of the first free-standing post when the tubular member is rotatably coupled over the first free-standing post.

6. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein the tubular member comprises a ring member positioned at an end thereof, an internal surface of the ring sitting on an edge of the first free-standing post when the tubular member is rotatably coupled over the first free-standing post.

7. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 6, wherein the ring member comprises a thrust bearing.

8. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, further comprising a lateral support member positioned at an upper end of the tubular support, an internal surface of the lateral support member positioned against an outer surface of an upper end of the first free-standing post when the tubular member is rotatably coupled over the first free-standing post.

9. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 8, wherein the lateral support member is selected from the group consisting of a bushing, a ball bearing, and a needle bearing.

10. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 8, further comprising a second lateral support member positioned at a lower end of the tubular support, an internal surface of the second lateral support member positioned against an outer surface of a lower end of the first free-standing post when the tubular member is rotatably coupled over the first free-standing post.

11. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 10, wherein the second lateral support member is selected from the group consisting of a bushing, a ball bearing, and a needle bearing.

12. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, further comprising a second free-standing post having a first non-moveable fence portion and positioned proximate to the first free-standing post, and a third free-standing post having a second non-moveable fence portion and positioned proximate to an end of the moveable fence portion opposite the first free-standing post.

13. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein the moveable fence portion is a swinging gate having a fulcrum at the rotatable coupling of the tubular member over the first free-standing post.

14. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein the first free-standing post further comprises at least one channel formed within an upper most edge thereof, and the tubular member further comprises a cross bar within an upper most end thereof, wherein the cross bar is engagable with the at least one channel to hold the tubular member in at least one corresponding fixed rotational position with respect to the first free-standing post.

15. A method of installing a hingeless fence assembly, the method comprising: planting a first free-standing post into the ground, the first free-standing post extending upwardly from the ground; and slipping a tubular member over the first free-standing post to rotatably couple the tubular member to the first free-standing post, the tubular member having a moveable fence portion extending therefrom.

16. A method according to claim 15, the method further comprising; planting a second free-standing post into the ground proximate to the first free-standing post; attaching a first non-moveable fence portion to the second free-standing post; planting a third free-standing post into the ground proximate to end of the moveable fence portion opposite the first free-standing post; and providing a latch from the end of the moveable fence portion to the third free-standing member for holding the moveable fence portion to the third free-standing post.

17. A hingeless fence assembly, comprising: a first free-standing post extending upwardly from the ground; a moveable fence portion having a tubular member rotatably coupled over the first free-standing post, the tubular member having an inside diameter greater than an outside diameter of the first free-standing post sufficient to allow the tubular member to rotate about the first free-standing post.

18. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 17, further comprising: a second free-standing post extending upwardly from the ground and having a first non-moveable fence portion, and being positioned proximate to the first free-standing post; and a third free-standing post extending upwardly from the ground and having a second non-moveable fence portion, and being positioned proximate to an end of the moveable fence portion opposite the first free-standing post.

19. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 17, wherein the moveable fence portion is a swinging gate having a fulcrum at the rotatable coupling of the tubular member over the first free-standing post.

20. A hingeless fence assembly according to claim 17, wherein the first free-standing post further comprises at least one channel formed within an upper most edge thereof, and the tubular member further comprises a cross bar within an upper most end thereof, wherein the cross bar is engagable with the at least one channel to hold the tubular member in at least one corresponding fixed rotational position with respect to the first free-standing post.

Description:

PRIOR RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/862,880, filed on Oct. 25, 2006, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to the field of fence gates and more particularly to hingeless fence assembly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional fencing for farms, ranches, and other rural applications use sections of immobile fence interspersed with gates for the passage through the fence. Large gates, such as those found in fences on cattle ranches and farms, often include a hinge mechanism to allow the gate to move from an open to a closed position, and vice versa. Hinge mechanisms include several inherent disadvantages, such as a propensity to rust and wear out, thus causing the owner to have to continually maintain, repair or replace the hinge mechanism. Other problems associated with hinge mechanisms are that they can be misaligned during installation or though extended use or abuse, also requiring continuous maintenance or repair. There is therefore a need for a improved fence gate mechanism that does not utilize hinges, and thus does not suffer from these deficiencies associated with prior art mechanisms.

SUMMARY

A hingeless fence assembly is described as having a free-standing post and a tubular member. The free-standing post extends upwardly from a hole in the ground and is positioned within the ground to a depth sufficient to provide the necessary stability. The tubular member is rotatably received over the free-standing post and has a slightly greater diameter than the free-standing post. The tubular member is coupled to or integrated with a gate or other moveable section of fencing, and thus is free to rotate about the free-standing post to open the gate or moveable fence section for passage therethrough. The disclosed structure and functionality eliminates the use of a traditional hinge mechanism between the fixed fence post and the gate.

Also disclosed is a method of installing a hingeless fence assembly. In one embodiment, the method comprises planting a first free-standing post into the ground, the first free-standing post extending upwardly from the ground. In addition, such a method may include slipping a tubular member over the first free-standing post to rotatably couple the tubular member to the first free-standing post. The tubular member may have a moveable fence portion extending from the tubular member, and with the rotational coupling of the tubular member to the first free-standing post, the moveable fence portion may swing with respect to the first free-standing post.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a top perspective schematic diagram for one embodiment of a hingeless fence post and assembly constructed in accordance with the principles disclosed herein;

FIG. 2 illustrates a front view schematic diagram for one embodiment of the hingeless fence post illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate close-up, cross-sectional diagrams of the top of the hingeless fence post illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 and various examples of the rotational engagement between the first free-standing post and the tubular member;

FIG. 4 illustrates a close-up, cross-sectional diagram of an alternative embodiment of a hingeless fence post constructed as disclosed herein and incorporating a stop mechanism;

FIG. 5 illustrates a top view diagram of a first free-standing post of the hingeless fence assembly illustrated in FIG. 4; and

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view diagram of a tubular member of the hingeless fence assembly illustrated in FIG. 4.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, illustrated is one embodiment of a hingeless fence post and assembly 10 constructed in accordance with the principles disclosed herein. The hingeless fence assembly 10 includes a first free-standing post 12 and a tubular member 14. The tubular member 14 is constructed with an internal diameter slightly larger than an external diameter of the first free-standing post 12, and thus is rotatably received over the first free-standing post 12.

The first free-standing post 12 is positioned within a hole 50 in the ground 70 to a depth sufficient to provide the necessary stability. In other embodiments, the depth of the hole may change based upon the structure and weight of the fence portions, as well as if cement is used within the hole to assist in securing the first free-standing post 12. A portion of the first free-standing post 12 extends upwardly above the ground 70. In an exemplary embodiment, the first free-standing post 12 is about 9 feet 6 inches in total length. In alternate embodiments, the first free-standing post 12 may be, but is not limited to about 15 feet, about 12 feet, about 10 feet, about 9 feet, about 8 feet, about 7 feet, or any length determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of a hingeless fence post assembly as disclosed herein. In the illustrated embodiment, the portion of the first free-standing post 12 extending above the ground 70 is about 5 feet 6 inches. In other embodiments, the portion of the first free-standing post 12 extending above the ground 70 may be, but is not limited to, about 10 feet, about 7 feet, about 6 feet, about 5 feet, about 4 feet, or any other height determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly.

In some embodiments, the diameter of the first free-standing post 12 is about 3½ inches. In other embodiments, the diameter of the first free-standing post 12 is about 6 inches, about 5 inches, about 4 inches, about 3 inches or any diameter determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly. The first free-standing post 12 may be made of any suitable material, including but not limited to wood, metal, plastic, ceramic and the like. In addition, in some embodiments, the tubular member 14 is about 5 feet in height. In alternate embodiments, the tubular member 14 may be, but is not limited to, about 8 feet, about 7 feet, about 6 feet, about 4 feet, about 3 feet, about 2 feet, or any length determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate height of the corresponding first free-standing post 12. As briefly mentioned above, the inside diameter of the tubular member 14 is greater than the outside diameter of the first free-standing post 12. In an exemplary embodiment, the diameter of the tubular member 14 is about 4 inches. In alternate embodiments, the diameter of the tubular member 14 is about 7 inches, about 6 inches, about 5 inches, about 3 inches, or any diameter determined by one skilled in the art for the corresponding first free-standing post 12. The tubular member 14 may be made of any suitable material, including but not limited to wood, metal, plastic, ceramic and the like.

Once slipped over the first free-standing post 12, the tubular member 14 is free to rotate about the first free-standing post 12 In some embodiments, the tubular member 14 is completely supported by the first free-standing post 12 and thus does not touch the ground 70. In such embodiments, the closeness of the inner diameter of the tubular member 14 as compared to the outer diameter of the first free-standing post 12 provides sufficient lateral support for a moveable section of fencing (e.g., gate 26) so that the gate 26 does not excessively sag towards the ground. In addition, the weight of the gate 26 keeps the tubular member 14 seated over the first free-standing post 12, with a cap 80 resting on an upper edge of the first free-standing post 12. In other embodiments, a ring or other circular structure (item #32 in FIG. 3B) may be included on the internal diameter of the tubular member 14 to provide a flat lip for resting on the upper edge of the first free-standing post 12. Of course, other structures for facilitating the rotational relationship between the tubular member 14 and the first free-standing post 12 may also be provided. Additionally, grease or other lubricant may be provided between the tubular member 14 and the first free-standing post 12 to help prevent excessive wear between these two components as they rotate with respect to one another.

In yet other embodiments, a thrust bearing, instead of the ring structure 32, may be provide between the upper edge of the first free-standing post 12 and the inside of the tubular member 14 to further reduce friction and wear when these components rotate with respect to one another. Still further, lateral support members (items #34 in FIG. 3C), for example, bushings or perhaps ball or needle bearings, may be included between these two components proximate to the upper edge of the first free-standing post 12 or proximate to the bottom edge of the tubular member 14, or even in both locations, to provide even further lateral support for the rotating gate 26. In other embodiments, the tubular member 14 is rotatably engaged with the first free-standing post 12 while also touching the ground 70, for example, if a wheeled or other rolling mechanism (not illustrated) is used a the distal end of the gate 26 from the tubular member 14. Such a wheeled mechanism would roll on the ground 70 as the gate 26 is opened and closed. Of course, some or all of these variations may be used together to provide lateral support for the gate 26.

The hingeless fence assembly 10 may also include a second free-standing post 18, such as may be seen in FIG. 2. The second free-standing post 18 is positioned within the ground 70 to a depth sufficient to provide the necessary stability, and may even by placed within the same hole 50 as the first free-standing post 12. The second free-standing post 18 is positioned relatively close to the first free-standing post 12, thus preventing large gaps in the fence. In an exemplary embodiment, the second free-standing post 18 is about 2 inches from the first free-standing post 12. In other embodiments, however, the second free-standing post 18 may be spaced about 6 inches, about 5 inches, about 4 inches, about 3 inches or less from the first free-standing post 12, or any other spacing as determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly.

A portion of the second free-standing post 18 extends upwardly above the ground 70. In an exemplary embodiment, the second free-standing post 18 is about 9 feet 6 inches in overall length. In other embodiments, however, the second free-standing post 18 may be, but is not limited to, about 11 feet, 10 feet, about 9 feet, about 8 feet, about 7 feet, about 6 feet, or any overall length determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly. In the illustrated embodiment, the portion of the second free-standing post 18 extending above the ground 70 is about 5 feet 6 inches; however, in other embodiments, the portion of the second free-standing post 18 extending above the ground 70 may be, but is not limited to, about 9 feet, about 8 feet, about 7 feet, about 6 feet, about 5 feet, about 4 feet, or any height determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly.

In a preferred embodiment, the diameter of the second free-standing post 18 is about the same as the diameter of the first free-standing post 12, which may be about 3½ inches. This provides a more aesthetically pleasing appearance for the complete fence. In other embodiments, the diameter of the second free-standing post 18 is about 5 inches, about 4 inches, or any diameter determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly. The second free-standing post 18 may be made of any suitable material, including but not limited to wood, metal, plastic, ceramic and the like. The second free-standing post 18 may also include a plurality of lateral members 20 extending horizontally from, and fixedly coupled to, the second free-standing post 18.

The hingeless fence assembly 10 may also include a third free-standing post 22, also illustrated in FIG. 2. The third free-standing post 22 may be positioned within a hole 60 in the ground 70 to a depth sufficient to provide the necessary stability. The hole 60 is preferably some distance from the first free-standing post 12, typically about the length of the gate 26. A portion of the third free-standing post 22 extends upwardly above the ground 70. In an exemplary embodiment, the height of the third free-standing post 22 is about 9 feet 6 inches. In other embodiments, the third free-standing post 22 may be, but is not limited to about 11 feet, about 10 feet, about 9 feet, about 8 feet, about 7 feet, about 6 feet, or any height determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly. In the illustrated embodiment, the portion of the third free-standing post 22 extending above the ground 70 is about 5 feet 6 inches. In other embodiments, the portion of the third free-standing post 22 extending above the ground 70 may be, but is not limited to about 9 feet, about 8 feet, about 7 feet, about 6 feet, about 5 feet, about 4 feet, or any length determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly.

In the illustrated embodiment, the outside diameter of the third free-standing post 22 is about the same as the diameter of the first free-standing post 12, which may be about 3½ inches. This provides a more aesthetically pleasing appearance for the complete fence. In other embodiments, the outside diameter of the third free-standing post 22 is about 7 inches, about 6 inches, about 5 inches, about 4 inches, about 3 inches, or any diameter determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly. In addition, the third free-standing post 22 may be made of any suitable material, including but not limited to wood, metal, plastic, ceramic and the like. The third free-standing post 22 may also include a plurality of lateral members 30 extending horizontally from, and fixedly coupled to, the third free-standing post 22.

In some embodiments, the tubular member 14 includes a plurality of lateral members 24 extending horizontally from, and fixedly coupled to, the tubular member 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the members 24 are tubular and form the gate 26. In other embodiments, the members 24 may have any suitable cross-sectional size and shape. In yet other embodiments, a gate 26 of any suitable configuration or style, including for example, a gate with vertical cross-bars, diagonal cross-bars, or a solid gate, may extend in a generally perpendicular direction from the longitudinal axis of the tubular member 14. The gate 26 may be of any size, configuration and material suitable for any particular application.

In some embodiments, the gate 26 includes a latching mechanism 28 that engages with the third free-standing post 22. The distance the third free-standing post 22 is from the first free-standing post 12 is determined by the length of the gate 26. In the illustrated embodiment, there is a 2½ inch space between the gate 26 and the third free-standing post 22. In other embodiments, the space is determined by one skilled in the art for the appropriate use of the disclosed hingeless fence post assembly.

To construct and install a hingeless fence post assembly 10 in accordance with the disclosed principles, the hole 50 is dug to an appropriate depth suitable for the fence's application, and taking into account the overall lengths of the fence posts to be used. In the illustrated embodiment, the first free-standing post 12 and the second free-standing post 18, if present, are set in the hole 50 to their appropriate heights and distances from one another. The hole 50 is then filled in, which may include the use of cement or other appropriate agent to assist in securing these components in their selected positions.

After installation of the free-standing posts 12, 18, the tubular member 14 is placed over the first free-standing post 12 so that it is rotatably coupled to the first free-standing post 12. With reference back to FIG. 3A, in some embodiments, the tubular member 14 is engaged with the first free-standing post 12 by resting a cap 80 of the tubular member 14 on the first free standing post 12. In other embodiments, with reference back to FIGS. 3B and 3C, additional components may be included with or between the first free-standing post 12 and the tubular member 14 to assist the rotational relationship between these two components.

In some advantageous embodiments, as depicted in FIG. 4, the tubular member 14 may include a cross bar 82 and the first free-standing post 12 may include a channel 84. As shown in FIG. 5, in an exemplary embodiment having these features, there may be a first channel 84a and a second channel 84b formed on the uppermost edge of the first free-standing post 12. The cross bar 82 of the tubular member 14 (shown in FIG. 6 mounted to the inside of the tubular member 14) engages with either the first channel 84a or second channel 84b. To position the tubular member 14 from the first channel 84a to the second channel 84b, the tubular member 14 is raised to disengage the cross bar 82 from the first channel 84a, and then rotated until, upon lowering of the tubular member 14, the crossbar 82 is engaged within the second channel 84b. In such embodiments, the gate 26 may be positively held in certain positions relative to the third free-standing post 22. For example, in accordance with only the two slots 84a, 84b shown in FIG. 5, the gate 26 may be positively held in a closed position, or in an open position about 90 degrees with respect to the lateral members 30 extending from the third free-standing post 22.

In other embodiments, there may be a plurality of channels 84 on the edge of the first free-standing post 12 for positioning the tubular member 14, and thus the gate 26, at a variety of positions. In some embodiments, the cross bar 82 is flush with the top of the tubular member 14, while in other embodiments, the cross bar 82 is slightly higher or lower than the top of the tubular member 14. Although in the illustrated embodiment, the cross bar 82 is positioned within the end of the tubular member 14 so that it can be engaged with the channels 84 at the edge of the first free standing post 12, in other embodiments, other engaging mechanisms may be used to position the tubular member 14 with respect to the first free-standing post 12. In addition, although a circular cross-section is shown for the cross-bar 82, any cross-sectional shape may be used as long as the it can be engaged by one or more corresponding channels 84 in the edge of the first free-standing post 12.

While various embodiments of forming bonding pads on an IC chip according to the principles disclosed herein have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of the invention(s) should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with any claims and their equivalents issuing from this disclosure. Furthermore, the above advantages and features are provided in described embodiments, but shall not limit the application of such issued claims to processes and structures accomplishing any or all of the above advantages.

Additionally, the section headings herein are provided for consistency with the suggestions under 37 C.F.R. 1.77 or otherwise to provide organizational cues. These headings shall not limit or characterize the invention(s) set out in any claims that may issue from this disclosure. Specifically and by way of example, although the headings refer to a “Technical Field,” such claims should not be limited by the language chosen under this heading to describe the so-called technical field. Further, a description of a technology in the “Background” is not to be construed as an admission that technology is prior art to any invention(s) in this disclosure. Neither is the “Summary” to be considered as a characterization of the invention(s) set forth in issued claims. Furthermore, any reference in this disclosure to “invention” in the singular should not be used to argue that there is only a single point of novelty in this disclosure. Multiple inventions may be set forth according to the limitations of the multiple claims issuing from this disclosure, and such claims accordingly define the invention(s), and their equivalents, that are protected thereby. In all instances, the scope of such claims shall be considered on their own merits in light of this disclosure, but should not be constrained by the headings set forth herein.