Title:
Silt fence removal tool
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tool used with lifting equipment for simultaneous removal from the ground of a stake and fabric of a silt fence comprising a flat plate (140) and at least two jaws (150) rotatably mounted on the flat plate. The jaws engage a stake of a silt fence when lowered over the stake and fabric such that when the flat plate is lifted, the jaws are drawn closer together to frictionally lock the stake and fabric to the tool so that the stake and fabric are removed from the ground without detaching the stake from the fabric.



Inventors:
Ringelstetter, Roger (Sun Prairie, WI, US)
Ringelstetter, Dan (Sun Prairie, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/828291
Publication Date:
01/29/2009
Filing Date:
07/25/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/26
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MAYO-PINNOCK, TARA LEIGH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOUIS VENTRE, JR (OAKTON, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tool used with lifting equipment for simultaneous removal from the ground of a stake and fabric of a silt fence comprising: (a) a flat plate; and, (b) a plurality of jaws rotatably mounted on the flat plate to engage a stake of a silt fence when lowered over the stake and fabric such that when the flat plate is lifted, the jaws are drawn closer together to frictionally lock the stake and fabric to the tool so that the stake and fabric are removed from the ground without detaching the stake from the fabric.

2. The tool of claim 1 further comprising a means for limiting the rotation of the jaws and their drawing together when the flat plate is lifted.

3. The tool of claim 2 wherein the means for limiting the rotation of the jaws and their drawing together when the flat plate is lifted is a block immovably attached to the flat plate such that it engages the jaws to prevent further rotation at a particular point in rotation of the jaws.

4. The tool of claim 1 further comprising a means for holding the tool.

5. The tool of claim 4 wherein the means for holding the tool is a handle attached to the flat plate on a side of the flat plate opposite to that of the jaws.

6. The tool of claim 1 further comprising a means for attaching the tool to lifting equipment.

7. The tool of claim 6 wherein the means for attaching the tool to lifting equipment is a hole near the top of the flat plate of sufficient size to enable a rope or chain used for lifting to be inserted through the hole.

8. The tool of claim 6 wherein the means for attaching the tool to lifting equipment comprises a second and third flat plate each mounted opposite one another on different sides of the flat plate above the jaws and each having a hole at a corresponding point to facilitate lifting.

9. The tool of claim 1 wherein the flat plate has a bolt hole for each jaw and the jaws are rotatably mounted on the flat plate using a means for rotating the jaws comprising a shoulder bolt, a bushing of a length shorter than the shoulder of the shoulder bolt and of a diameter of sufficient size to fit over the shoulder of the shoulder bolt and freely rotate around said shoulder and wherein said bushing is immovably attached to a jaw so that rotation of the bushing eccentrically rotates the attached jaw, and a nut to engage the shoulder bolt when the shoulder bolt is inserted through the bolt hole.

10. The tool of claim 8 wherein each jaw is immovably attached to a bushing such that the jaws rotate in a plane away from the vertical.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

In the field of erosion control at construction sites, a silt fence removal tool that simultaneously removes from the ground a stake and attached fabric of a silt fence.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Erosion control at construction sites is typically accomplished using a silt fence. The silt fence is often composed of fabric mounted on stakes. The stakes are vertically inserted in the ground around the perimeter of a construction site such that the fabric creates a vertical barrier restraining movement of silt carried by surface water on the construction site.

Typically, a small segment of the fabric at its lower edge is buried such that most of the fabric stands upright above the soil surface. The fabric of a silt fence is about twenty-four to forty-two inches in vertical height. There are various installation methods of fabric on stakes.

Removal of the silt fence often involves disengagement of the fabric from its attachment to the stake and usually compromises the ability to use the silt fence again. The present invention is a tool for removal of the stake and attached fabric of a silt fence, which tends to preserve the attachment of the fabric to the stake. The invention is a tool that simplifies the removal of the stake and fabric from the ground in a manner that enables re-use the silt fence.

DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

Post pullers based on frictionally engaging a stake are known in the art. These typically involve circumferentially surrounding the stake or post and then employing levered sides, tightening a chain, or rotating the puller to engage the stake or post for lifting. However, none use rotational engaged gripping jaws that operate to frictionally engage to the tool both the stake and fabric, none facilitates simultaneous removal of the stake and fabric, and none uses a gripper that does not circumferentially surround the stake. Existing post pullers typically result in broken posts, torn fabric and dirt mixed in with the fence. The fence usually must be hauled away for disposal and removal thus involves a costly and labor intensive process. These problems are avoided with the present invention.

The most common of such prior art is operated by lowering a circumferential puller over the stake, which disengages any fabric still connected to the stake. Upon reaching a point on the stake, the circumferential puller engages the stake, usually by rotation or lever action and then the stake and gripper are lifted out of the ground.

An example of this type of post puller is U.S. Pat. No. 7,059,587, which teaches a circumferential puller that includes a pair of opposed gripping heads disposed in spaced parallel relationship to one another and pivotally connected by a parallel four bar linkage. A device, such as a hand jack or front-end loader, is operably attached to one of the gripping heads to exert an upwardly directed force. This causes the one gripping head to lever up toward the other gripping head so that the opposing gripping heads contact and grip the post on opposite sides and transmit the upwardly directed force to the post. When the upwardly directed force is released, the gripping heads move apart and slide down the posts for another bite. The present invention employs gripping jaws that rotate about a fixed point to lock both the stake and the fabric to the tool, and does not employ a lever to move the gripping heads. The present invention does not employ a circumferential puller that would tend to disengage any fabric from the stake.

Another such example is U.S. Pat. No. 6,669,172, which teaches a circumferential puller that is useable with a front-end loader to pull a post out of the ground. It is essentially a pipe segment having a slanted axis with respect to the vertical when mounted on the bucket of the front-end loader. The pipe has teeth members connected to the interior surface of pipe at the upper and lower ends. When lowered over a stake, the pipe segment is rotated so that the teeth bite into the stake such that when raised by the equipment, the stake is removed from the ground. The present invention does not use a pipe segment or circumferential puller that would disengage any fabric from the stake. The present invention uses rotating gripper jaws not taught in the '172 patent.

Yet another example is U.S. Pat. No. 7,125,000, which teaches a car jack style post remover. The movable slider of the car jack is chained circumferentially around the stake and when raised by lever action removes the stake from the ground. Any attached fabric, tends to pull off the stake when the stake is raised. The present invention further does not engage the stake using a lever activated pulling system.

Accordingly, the present invention will serve to improve the state of the art by providing a non-circumferential tool for gripping both the stake and fabric for simultaneous removal of the stake and attached fabric of a silt fence. The invention preserves the attachment of the fabric to the stake to enable re-use the silt fence. The invention reduces the occurrence of broken stakes, torn fabric and dirt mixed in with the fence. The invention simplifies the silt fence removal process and in so doing reduces the labor intensiveness of the fence removal process. Enabling re-use of the silt fence, simplifying the removal process, and diminishing its labor intensity, results in lowering the cost of silt fence removal.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A tool used with lifting equipment for simultaneous removal from the ground of a stake and fabric of a silt fence comprising a flat plate and at least two jaws rotatably mounted on the flat plate. The jaws engage a stake of a silt fence when lowered over the stake and fabric such that when the flat plate is lifted, the jaws are drawn closer together to frictionally lock the stake and fabric to the tool so that the stake and fabric are removed from the ground without detaching the stake from the fabric.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings in which like reference numbers represent corresponding parts throughout:

FIG. 1 is a rear view of a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a jaw in a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a side view of a disassembled shoulder bolt, bushing and nut in a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a side view of an assembled jaw, shoulder bolt, bushing and nut for rotatably mounting a jaw to the flat plate in a preferred embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof and which illustrate several embodiments of the present invention. The drawings and the preferred embodiments of the invention are presented with the understanding that the present invention is susceptible of embodiments in many different forms and, therefore, other embodiments may be utilized, and structural and operational changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a rear view of a preferred embodiment of the invention used with lifting equipment for simultaneous removal from the ground of a stake and fabric of a silt fence. It is a rear view in the sense that the stake and fabric would be on the opposite side shown. FIG. 2 is a side view of this embodiment. Reference is made to these figures in describing the various preferred embodiments.

In one embodiment, the tool comprises a flat plate (140) and two or more jaws (150) rotatably mounted on the flat plate. The flat plate (140) may have any configuration, for example, rectangular, square, oval, rounded, or a combination of these. While any dimension flat plate is acceptable, an example is a flat steel plate about 5 inches in width, about 6 inches in height and about 5/16 inch thick.

The two jaws (150) shown are more or less elliptical and have teeth to grip a stake therebetween. Any shape jaw with or without teeth would be within the scope of the invention. Each jaw (150) rotates about a point that enables the jaw to freely open when lowered on a stake between the jaws. Yet, when lifted, the eccentric rotation draws the jaws (150) closer together to frictionally lock the stake and fabric to the tool. After removal, lowering the tool releases the stake and fabric from the jaws.

Optionally, the jaws are canted away from the vertical so that the lifting force adds a horizontal force vector that presses the stake and fabric against the flat plate. As shown in FIG. 2, the jaws (150) rotate in a plane about 5 degrees away from the vertical. Thus, the jaws (150) engage a stake of a silt fence when lowered over the stake and fabric such that when the flat plate (140) is lifted, the jaws (150) are drawn closer together.

Whether the jaws are canted or straight, lifting the tool tends to remove the stake and fabric from the ground without detaching the stake from the fabric. While any dimension jaw is acceptable, an example is one made of a ⅜ inch plate steel about 1.5 inches in diameter.

In an alternative embodiments, additional features or elements are added to the tool. It is desirable to limit the rotation of the jaws (150) to prevent crushing the stake in the lifting process and to maintain an operable position for the jaws (150). Therefore, one embodiment includes a means for limiting the rotation of the jaws (150) and their drawing together when the flat plate is lifted. This means for limiting is a stop block (170) attached to the flat plate for each jaw (150). When a jaw (150) rotates a given amount, it impacts the stop block and no further rotation is possible. This may be accomplished with one or more protrusions from the jaw (150), or preferably, as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3, by using a jaw (150) with a segment cut-out that permits rotation of the jaw only in an arc defined by the cut-out. Thus, the stop block engages the jaws to prevent further rotation at a particular point in rotation of the jaws. While any dimension stop block (170) is acceptable, an example is a block having dimensions about ⅜ inches by about 1 inch in length.

In an alternative embodiment, the tool includes a means for holding the tool. The means for holding the tool is a handle (130), or, as shown in FIG. 2, a three-sided attachment that creates a box-like addition to the flat plate on back side of the flat plate, that is the side opposite to that of the jaws. The means for holding may take any form that aids in holding the tool and using the tool on a silt fence. While any dimension handle is acceptable, an example is one made of a ⅛ inch plate steel about 1.0 inch in width and extending about 1.375 inches from the flat plate (140). Larger dimension handles may be used, for example, to accommodate lifting forks on lifting equipment.

In an alternative embodiment, the tool includes a means for attaching the tool to lifting equipment. This means for attaching can be as simple as a hole (111) near the top of the flat plate of sufficient size to enable a rope or chain used for lifting to be inserted through the hole to attach to lifting equipment. It may also be one or more protrusions (112) from the flat plate that might be used with a hook or looped rope to attach to the lifting equipment. In yet other embodiments, the means for attaching is a second (120) and third (121) flat plate each mounted opposite one another on different sides of the flat plate (140) above the jaws and each having a hole (110) at a corresponding point to facilitate lifting. While any dimensions for the second and third flat plate are within the scope of the invention, an example is such plates made of a 3/16 inch plate steel about 2.5 inches wide and having a 7/16 inch hole (110).

FIGS. 4 and 5 show a means for rotating the jaws (150). The flat plate (140) has a bolt hole (253) for each jaw (150). Each jaw (150) is rotatably mounted on the flat plate using a means for rotating the jaws, for which an example is shown in assembled form in FIG. 2.

The preferred means for rotating the jaws is a combination of several components: (1) A shoulder bolt (251), which is a commonly available item. (2) A bushing (252) of a length shorter than the shoulder of the shoulder bolt and of a diameter of sufficient size to fit over the shoulder of the shoulder bolt and freely rotate around the shoulder. The bushing (252) is equivalent to a simple pipe segment. The bushing (252) is immovably attached, such as for example welded, to a jaw (150) so that rotation of the bushing eccentrically rotates the attached jaw (150). The bushing (252) and the jaw (150) operate as a single rotating unit. And finally, (4) a nut (160) to engage the shoulder bolt (251) when the shoulder bolt is inserted through the bolt hole (253). While these components may be used in variable sizes and dimensions, one example is a 0.5 inch by 1.375 inch shoulder bolt used with the other parts.

Other arrangements, such as using a bearing for the means for rotating the jaws (150) will be obvious to those skilled in the art.

The above-described embodiments including the drawings are examples of the invention and merely provide illustrations of the invention. Other embodiments will be obvious to those skilled in the art. Thus, the scope of the invention is determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents rather than by the examples given.