Title:
SOFT BIMINI STYLE GAZEBO PARTICULARLY IN USE WITH SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENTLY ACTUATING HARD TOP COVER FLIPPER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A convertible spa top having pairs of brackets mounted at locations along sides of the spa. A bimini frame incorporates a plurality of interconnected tubular members to which is secured a fabric covering, the frame hingedly engaging the brackets and including at least a main tubular member engaging, at remote ends, an intermediate-most located pair of brackets, a pair of tubular supports extending from the other of the pair of brackets and each engaging an intermediate outer leg location of the main tubular member, and at least one secondary tubular member extending in a hinged and reverse angled fashion from additional locations associated with the main tubular member. The frame is convertible from a first configuration in which the fabric covering is substantially stretched over and above the spa, to a second configuration in which the tubular members and fabric are collapsed to one end of the spa.



Inventors:
Moore, Scott (Waterford, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/697405
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
04/06/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOUNKINS, KAREN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (TROY, MI, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A convertible soft top for use with a spa, comprising: first and second pairs of brackets mounted at aligning locations defined along parallel extending sides associated with the spa; a bimini frame incorporating a plurality of interconnected tubular members to which is secured a fabric covering, said frame hingedly engaging said brackets and further comprising: a main tubular member exhibiting a substantially “U” shape including a pair of outer legs engaging, at remote ends, an intermediate-most located pair of brackets; a pair of tubular supports extending from the other of said pair of brackets, each engaging an intermediate outer leg location of said main tubular member; and at least one secondary “U” shaped tubular member extending in a hinged and reverse angled fashion from additional locations associated with said outer legs associated with said main tubular member; said frame being convertible from a first configuration in which said fabric covering is substantially stretched over and above the spa, to a second configuration in which said tubular members and associated fabric covering are collapsed along one end of the spa.

2. The convertible spa top as described in claim 1, said at least one secondary tubular member further comprising a first secondary tubular member mounting at opposite ends to locations along said main member outer legs proximate to said intermediate hinged brackets, a second secondary tubular member mounting at opposite ends to extended locations along said main member outer legs proximate said engaging locations of said tubular supports.

3. The convertible spa top as described in claim 2, further comprising a third secondary tubular member mounted in reverse angled fashion relative to intermediate locations associated with said first secondary tubular member.

4. The convertible spa top as described in claim 4, said fabric covering exhibiting a specified shape and size releasably securing to crosswise extending portions of each of said main and secondary tubular members.

5. The convertible spa top as described in claim 1, further comprising at least one tie down strap extending from an end of the spa opposite said collapsing end, said strap engaging a crosswise extending location of said secondary tubular member for maintaining said frame in said first configuration.

6. The convertible spa top as described in claim 1, each of said pairs of brackets further comprising a substantially “U” shaped body, from associated ends of which extend first and second angled end flanges mounted to the spa sides, a hinged support mounting to an outermost projecting face associated with each of said brackets and for receiving a selected main tubular frame or tubular support end.

7. The convertible spa top as described in claim 6, further comprising a substantially “U” shaped cover flipper engaging a pair of secondary and inwardly spaced hinged supports associated with said tubular support brackets, said flipper converting between an extending position in which a crosswise extending portion thereof overlays and extends across a midpoint of the spa, and a retracted position in which said cover flipper retracts a hinged spa cover off to a side of the spa without interference with said bimini frame.

8. The convertible spa top as described in claim 7, further comprising at least one of said main tubular member, said secondary tubular member and said cover flipper exhibiting telescopically extendable sides or ends.

9. The convertible spa top as described in claim 8, each of said “U” shaped members further comprising a pair of angled outer tubular portions, within open ends of which are telescopically and adjustably received inner tubular portions defining both cross wise extending and end extending portions.

10. The convertible spa top as described in claim 7, further comprising a length chain mounted at a first end to a side location of the spa, a second end mounting to a selected leg of said cover flipper and, upon retracting said cover flipper, extending to a maximum permissible length at which said cover flipper and cover are maintained in suspended fashion to the side of the spa.

11. A combination convertible soft top and cover flipper for use with a spa, comprising: first and second pairs of brackets mounted at aligning locations defined along parallel extending sides associated with the spa; a bimini frame incorporating a plurality of interconnected tubular members to which is secured a fabric covering, said frame hingedly engaging said brackets and further comprising at least: a main “U” shaped tubular member engaging an intermediate-most located pair of brackets; a pair of lengthwise extending tubular supports extending from the other of said pair of brackets, each engaging an intermediate outer leg location of said main tubular member; and at least one secondary “U” shaped tubular member extending in a hinged and reverse angled fashion from additional locations associated with said outer legs associated with said main tubular member; each of said pairs of brackets further comprising a substantially “U” shaped body, from associated ends of which extend first and second angled end flanges mounted to the spa sides, a hinged support mounting to an outermost projecting face associated with each of said brackets and for receiving a selected main tubular frame or tubular support end; and said cover flipper engaging a pair of secondary and inwardly spaced hinged supports associated with said tubular support brackets, said flipper converting between an extending position in which a crosswise extending portion thereof overlays and extends across a midpoint of said spa, and a retracted position in which said cover flipper retracts a hinged spa cover off to a side of the spa without interference with said bimini frame; said frame being convertible from a first configuration in which said fabric covering is substantially stretched over and above the spa, to a second configuration in which said tubular members and associated fabric covering are collapsed along one end of the spa.

12. The combination convertible soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 11, said at least one secondary tubular member further comprising a first secondary tubular member mounting at opposite ends to locations along said main member outer legs proximate to said intermediate hinged brackets, a second secondary tubular member mounting at opposite ends to extended locations along said main member outer legs proximate said engaging locations of said tubular supports.

13. The combination soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 12, further comprising a third secondary tubular member mounted in reverse angled fashion relative to intermediate locations associated with said first secondary tubular member.

14. The combination soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 14, said fabric covering exhibiting a specified shape and size releasably securing to crosswise extending portions of each of said main and secondary tubular members.

15. The combination soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 11, further comprising a pair of tie down straps extending from an end of the spa opposite said collapsing end, said straps engaging crosswise extending locations associated with said secondary tubular member for maintaining said frame in said first configuration.

16. The combination soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 11, further comprising at least one of said main tubular member, said secondary tubular member and said cover flipper exhibiting telescopically extendable sides or ends.

17. The combination soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 16, each of said “U” shaped members further comprising a pair of angled outer tubular portions, within open ends of which are telescopically and adjustably received inner tubular portions defining both cross wise extending and end extending portions.

18. The combination soft top and cover flipper as described in claim 17, further comprising a length chain mounted at a first end to a side location of said spa, a second end mounting to a selected leg of said cover flipper and, upon retracting said cover flipper, extending to a maximum permissible length at which said cover flipper and cover are maintained in suspended fashion to the side of the spa.

19. A convertible soft top assembly and combined cover flipper for use with a spa, comprising: at least one pair of brackets mounted at locations along opposite extending sides of the spa; a bimini frame incorporating a plurality of interconnected tubular members hingedly mounted to said brackets and to which is secured a fabric covering; said cover flipper hingedly mounted to said brackets at inwardly spaced locations relative to said bimini frame, said flipper converting between an extending position in which a crosswise extending portion thereof overlays and extends across a midpoint of said spa, and a retracted position in which said cover flipper is upwardly pivoted and retracts a hinged spa cover off to a side of the spa, and without interference with said bimini frame; said frame being convertible from a first configuration in which said fabric covering is substantially stretched over and above the spa, to a second configuration in which said tubular members and associated fabric covering are collapsed along one end of the spa.

20. The convertible soft top assembly and combined cover flipper as described in claim 19, said at least one pair of brackets further comprising a first pair of end located brackets and second pair of intermediate located brackets, said bimini frame further comprising: a main “U” shaped tubular member engaging said intermediate-most located pair of brackets; a pair of lengthwise extending tubular supports extending from said end located brackets, each engaging an intermediate outer leg location of said main tubular member; and at least one secondary “U” shaped tubular member extending in a hinged and reverse angled fashion from additional locations associated with said outer legs associated with said main tubular member;

Description:

FIELD OF TIE INVENTION

The present invention discloses a soft bimini style gazebo including collapsible frame which is capable of being mounted in overhead extending fashion to associated side walls of a spa. The mounting brackets associated with the bimini and frame also provide for securing, in likewise pivotal fashion, a “U” shaped cover flipper, the same supporting such as a hard top in both an extended fashion over the spa as well as a side retracted and suspended position and which is capable of actuating both independently and in a non-interfering fashion relative to the bimini frame support.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Examples of overhead enclosures such as associated with a pool, spa or other outdoor located convenience are known in the art. Such articles are intended to provide a degree of shading or shelter to users of the pool or spa.

One example of an article selected from the prior art is set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 6,212,702, issued Apr. 10, 2001, discloses a spa cover kit exhibiting a square or rectangular shaped overhead cap pivotally attached at two corners along one end of two dual hinged support posts. The cap is constructed of a lightweight and weather-proof material, such as a molded fiberglass and is also disclosed to include skylights for permitting natural light to pass through during use. The lower end of each dual hinged support post is pivotally attached to the deck surface on which the spa sits.

Wilson, U.S. Pat. No. 6,718,566, teaches a vertically adjustable spa cover assembly including a cover movable above a spa between a raised position and a lowered position. Lifts are used to raise and lower the cover and the cover assembly may also include a screen that surrounds the area between the cover and the spa. The lifts further include threaded or telescoping sections with rods and pipes which engage one another and move up and down as one or more of the sections are rotated by a power source (via such as gears or sprockets) including such as a motor or hand crank.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,272,695, issued to Brandner, teaches a collapsible dome for pools including a support guide bar mounted along an edge of the pool. A first support base is mounted on the edge of the pool opposite the support guide bar on the opposite side of the pool. A second support base is slidably hung upon the support guide bar, allowing movement of the second support base along the guide bar and in order to decrease or increase the distance measured around the pool edge between the first and second support bases. Two or more arches are pivotally attached at associated ends to the support bases, each being movable between collapsed and inclined positions. A flexible membrane is attached to each of the arches and spans the area between the arches and pool edge and to thereby form a collapsible dome.

Additional examples of removable or retractable hot tub covers are also shown in Aragona et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,246,663, and Dahlbeck et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,136,408.

The prior art is also well documented with examples of lift frames in use with spa covers, these covers typically employing a pair of rigid three dimensional and planar portions which are hingedly secured together along one edge and which seat over the spa when not in use. The lift frame, as conventionally known, includes a generally U shaped component which hingedly attaches to either brackets defined along the sides or rear of the spa (see Genova U.S. Pat. No. 5,996,137, Durarte, U.S. Pat. No. 7,073,213, or Outlette, U.S. Pat. No. 5,517,703) or to some other type of ground support frame positioned in proximity to the spa (see also Genova U.S. Pat. No. 6,842,917, Perry, U.S. Pat. No. 6,381,766, Koren, U.S. Pub. No. 2006/0225198, or Hagan, U.S. Pat. No. 7,146,656). As is also known, such “cover flippers” are intended to provide for convenient pivoting of the two piece rigid cover, and by virtue of engaging the hinged location of the cover in order to pivot and concurrently fold the same from its use position to a side disposed and suspended non-use position.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention discloses a combined soft bimini style gazebo and cover flipper for use with an outdoor spa or the like and which includes collapsible frame which is capable of being mounted in overhead extending fashion to associated side walls of a spa. The mounting brackets associated with the bimini and frame also provide for securing, in likewise pivotal fashion, the “U” shaped cover flipper, the same supporting such as a hard top in both an extended fashion over the spa as well as a side retracted and suspended position and which is capable of actuating both independently and in a non-interfering fashion relative to the bimini frame support.

The convertible top includes first and second pairs of brackets mounted at aligning locations defined along parallel extending sides associated with the spa. The bimini frame incorporates a plurality of interconnected tubular members, and to which is secured a fabric covering.

The frame hingedly engages the brackets and further includes a main tubular member exhibiting a substantially “U” shape including a pair of outer legs engaging, at remote ends, an intermediate-most located pair of brackets. A pair of lengthwise extending tubular supports extend from the other and proximate end located pair of brackets, each engaging an intermediate outer leg location of the main tubular member. A first secondary tubular member mounts at opposite ends to locations along the main member outer legs, proximate to the intermediate hinged brackets, and extends in a reverse angled fashion. A second secondary tubular member likewise mounts at opposite ends to extended locations along the main member outer legs proximate the engaging locations of the tubular supports. Additionally, a third secondary tubular member mounts in reverse angled fashion relative to intermediate locations associated with the first secondary tubular member and, collectively along with the main tubular member, define a supporting structure for retaining the bimini fabric.

The frame is convertible from a first configuration in which the fabric covering is substantially stretched over and above the spa, to a second configuration in which the tubular members and associated fabric covering are collapsed along one end of the spa. A pair of tie-down straps are provided and extend from an end of the spa opposite the collapsing end, the straps engaging crosswise extending locations of the secondary tubular member, and for maintaining the frame in the first use configuration.

Each of the pairs of brackets further exhibit a substantially “U” shaped body, from associated ends of which extend first and second angled end flanges mounted to the spa sides. A hinged support mounts to an outermost projecting face associated with each of the brackets and to which is engaged a selected main tubular frame or other tubular support end.

A substantially “U” shaped cover flipper engages a pair of secondary and inwardly spaced hinged supports associated with the tubular support brackets. The flipper converts between an extending position, in which a crosswise extending portion thereof overlays and extends across a midpoint of the spa, and a retracted position in which the cover flipper retracts a hinged spa cover off to a side of the spa without interference with the bimini frame.

Yet additional features include at least one of the main tubular member, secondary tubular member and cover flipper exhibiting telescopically extendable sides or ends. More particularly, each of these “U” shaped members may further exhibit a pair of angled outer tubular portions, within open ends of which are telescopically and adjustably received inner tubular portions defining both cross wise extending and end extending portions. A length chain can be mounted at a first end to a side location of the spa, a second end mounting to a selected leg of the cover flipper. Upon retracting (i.e. upwardly pivoting) the cover flipper, the chain is extended to a maximum permissible length, at which the cover flipper and foldably supported cover are maintained in suspended fashion to the side of the spa.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made to the attached drawings, when read in combination with the following detailed description, wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the soft bimini structure in extended configuration mounted atop a spa according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged sectional view of a selected mounting bracket in use with the bimini structure illustrated in FIG. 1, and illustrating an outer hinged support associated with a mounting location of the bimini supporting frame, as well as an inner hinged support associated with a mounting location of the “U” shaped cover flipper support bar;

FIG. 3 is a succeeding view to that shown in FIG. 2 and illustrating the range of pivotal motion associated with both of the inner and outer hinged supports;

FIG. 4 is an example of a selected “U” shaped support bar, drawing from either or both of the bimini frame supports and cover flipper, and which is intended to further illustrate the telescopically adjustable nature of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view similar to that shown in FIG. 1 and illustrating the ability to retract both the bimini frame and cover flipper to non-use positions in independent and non-interfering fashion.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIG. 1, a convertible soft top bimini and cover flipper assembly are illustrated collectively at 10 in use with a standard spa according to the present invention. As will be described, the present invention discloses a soft top bimini and cover flipper assembly, in which the bimini and cover flipper are capable of being independently actuated between extended use and retracted non-use positions without interfering with one another and/or without requiring removal of either.

Also, and while a spa is illustrated in use with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, it is also envisioned and understood that other outdoor conveniences, such as above ground pools or the like, could be substituted. As shown in FIG. 1, the spa illustrated is of a generally known conventional design and typically includes a four sided article including in particular side walls 12 &14 and interconnecting end walls 16 &18, and between which is defined an open and recessed top 20.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the convertible top includes first 22 and second 24 pairs of brackets, typically constructed of a grade steel or like material, are mounted at aligning locations defined along parallel extending sides (again 12 and 14) associated with the spa. While the perspective view of FIG. 1 only illustrates selected brackets 22 and 24, it is understood that opposite and aligning brackets are also configured along hidden and parallel extending side 14 of the spa.

Additionally, and consistent with the following terminology applied, the first pair of pair of brackets 22 correspond with end-proximate situated brackets close to the collapsing end 18 of the bimini structure (as will be subsequently described in detail). The second pair of brackets 24 correspond with intermediate mounting locations along the sides 14 and 16 of the spa. As is further shown, the brackets 22 and 24 are preferably mounted in both crosswise and height-wise aligning fashion, although it is contemplated and understood that the location of the brackets can be modified according to the abilities of one of ordinary skill in the art.

The bimini frame incorporates a plurality of interconnected tubular members, to which is secured a fabric covering as shown at 26 as represented in FIG. 1. As best shown in FIG. 1, the tubular components of the frame hingedly engage the pairs of brackets 22 and 24 in the manner illustrated and include a main tubular member exhibiting a substantially “U” shape and including a pair of outer legs 28 and 30 extending, respectively from a crosswise center portion (hidden from view by the fabric cover 26) and engaging, at remote ends, the intermediate-most located pair of brackets 24.

As will be further discussed in reference to the enlarged sectional perspectives of the end positioned brackets 22 in FIGS. 2 and 3, each of the brackets themselves exhibit a substantially “U” shaped body, from associated ends of which extend first and second angled flanges and which facilitate mounting to the sides of the spa (see as shown by mounting fasteners in the embodiment illustrated). As further best shown in the example of the end position bracket 22 in FIG. 2, an outermost articulating mounting support, see at 32, secures to a vertical surface of each bracket 22 and 24, such as again through the use of fasteners, and for receiving a selected main tubular frame or tubular support end, such as further in the fashion further illustrated in FIG. 3.

A pair of lengthwise extending tubular supports, see at 34 and 36, secure to and extend from the other and proximate end located pair of brackets 22 (see again FIG. 3), each of the tubular supports 34 and 36 engaging an intermediate outer leg location, at 38 and 40 as best shown in FIG. 1, of the main tubular leg members 28 and 30, respectively. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 4, the interconnections established between the main, secondary and support members include an annular collar attachment hingedly connected to an extending end of a selected tubular member, and in order to pivotally interconnect two members together.

Referring again to FIG. 1, a first secondary tubular member, this exhibiting a substantially “U” shape with a crosswise center extending portion from which extend end legs 42 and 44 mounts at opposite ends to locations, as shown only at 46 for spa side 12, along each of the main member outer legs 28 and 30. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, the point of hinged connection 46 is proximate to the intermediate hinged brackets 24, and such that the secondary tubular member (legs 42 and 44) is permitted to extend in a reverse angled fashion relative to the main tubular member (legs 28 and 30).

A second secondary tubular member (legs 48 and 50) likewise mounts at opposite ends to extended locations 52 and 54 along the main member outer legs 28 and 30 proximate the engaging locations 38 and 40 of the tubular supports 34 and 36. Additionally, a third secondary tubular member (legs 56 and 58) mounts in reverse angled fashion relative to intermediate locations (60 and 62) associated with the first secondary tubular member (again legs 42 and 44) and, collectively along with the main tubular member (legs 28 and 30), define a supporting structure for retaining the bimini fabric 26 in its substantially tautened condition as shown in FIG. 1.

In this fashion, the frame is convertible from a first configuration in which the fabric covering 26 is substantially stretched over and above the spa (again FIG. 1), to a second configuration in which the tubular members and associated fabric covering are collapsed along one end of the spa (see FIG. 4 and which further illustrates a cover 64 (such as attached by a zipper or Velcro portions) secured over the bunched fabric 26. As is further conventionally known, the fabric covering 26 can likewise be secured to each of the crosswise extending portions associated with the main and secondary hinged tubular supports and by zippered or other releasably engageable underside portions (e.g. Velcro® portions) defined along underside flaps.

A pair of tie-down straps, see at 66 and 68, are provided and extend from an end 16 of the spa opposite the collapsing end 18. The straps 66 and 68 engage crosswise extending locations, see further at 70 and 72 respectively, of the secondary tubular member (again legs 42 and 44), for maintaining the frame in the first use configuration shown in FIG. 1. This can be further accomplished by defining hooks or other easily engaged/disengaged mechanical components to the ends of the straps 66 and 68 (the straps further being either flexible, e.g. rubberized like tie down straps, or also including a fabric construction with a belt or other strap adjustment to redefine its overall length and to therefore provide a desired degree of tensioning to the extended end of the bimini frame.

A substantially “U” shaped cover flipper (see legs 70 and 72 and interconnecting central portion 74) engages a pair of secondary and inwardly spaced hinged supports, see at 76 in FIGS. 2 and 3, which are associated with the end located tubular support brackets 22. As shown in FIG. 2, the hinged supports (see at 32 for outer bimini support and at 76 for inwardly spaced inner cover flipper support) may include a collar portion (for example at 78 for hinged support 76) which is pivotally secured to the hinged support (or mount) 76. The inner end of the tubular leg portion (see further as illustrated by cover flipper leg 70 in FIG. 3) is typically hollowed and engages over the collar 78 in a fixed manner. Additionally, and although not shown, it is also contemplated that a mechanical fastener or other permanent securing device can be employed for fastening a selected frame or cover flipper portion to an associated hinged support.

The cover flipper (legs 70 and 72 and crosswise interconnecting portion 74) converts between an extending position (FIG. 1), in which the crosswise extending portion 74 overlays and extends across a general midpoint of the spa, and a retracted position (FIG. 4) in which the cover flipper retracts to a position (see as shown in phantom at 70′ and 72′ for retracted cover flipper legs) a hinged spa cover. The conventional rigid cover is also illustrated in phantom, by rigidly foldable halves 80 and 82 in FIG. 5 which are suspended from the retracted central leg of the cover flipper (at 74′ in FIG. 5) and such that the cover is repositioned off to a side of the spa, and without interference with the components of the bimini frame previously described.

A length chain 84 can be mounted at a first end 86 to a side location of the spa, a second end 88 mounting to a selected leg (70) of the cover flipper. Upon retracting (i.e. upwardly pivoting) the cover flipper, the chain is extended to a maximum permissible length (see at 84′ and 88′ in phantom in FIG. 5), at which the cover flipper and foldably supported cover are maintained in suspended fashion to the side of the spa.

Referring to FIG. 4, yet additional features include at least one (or all) of the main tubular member, secondary tubular member and cover flipper exhibiting telescopically extendable sides or ends. More particularly, each of these “U” shaped members may further exhibit a pair of angled outer tubular portions, see substantially 90° angled and hollowed interior portions 90 and 92, and within open ends (at 94 &96 and 98 &100, respectively for tubular portions 90 and 92) of which are telescopically and adjustably received inner tubular portions. These are further shown at 102 &104 associated with open ends 94 &96 of angled tubular portion 84, and further at 106 &108 for angled tubular portion 86, and thus defining both cross wise extending and end extending portions.

The illustration of FIG. 4 further shows fasteners 108 in one example, these inserting through threaded locations associated with the ends of the angled tubular members 90 and 92 (see at 110) and, in this fashion, facilitate the telescopic extension or retraction of the selected “U” shaped member in either of lengthwise 112 or widthwise 114 directions and in order to adapt the selected frame member or cover flipper to various spa dimensions.

Accordingly, the present invention discloses a novel and collapsible bimini for use with a spa and which is further capable of operating collectively and independently of a uniquely modified cover flipper (through the provision of the unique mounting bracket structure associated with the invention). Having described my invention, other and additional preferred embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which it pertains, and without deviating from the scope of the appended claims: