Title:
Arrangement and method for connecting fence sections
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fence includes an upright post and one or more rails radiating from the post. An arrangement for connecting the post to the rail or rails includes a carrier that can be mounted on the post and one or more holders for the rail or rails. Each holder is attached to the carrier by a hinge that allows the respective holder to pivot or rotate relative to the carrier in two different planes. An accessory bracket for flexible rails and a gate hinge may also be connected to the carrier.



Inventors:
Ford, Garrett N. (Tucson, AZ, US)
Lehmann, Ryan (Lancaster, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/157748
Publication Date:
02/05/2009
Filing Date:
06/13/2008
Assignee:
Ryan Lehmann (Lancaster, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/14
View Patent Images:
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20090278106Attachment for baluster for stair, balcony or landing rails for both adjustable and fixed railingsNovember, 2009Truckner
20060124914Baluster aligning apparatus and methodJune, 2006Lavargna Jr.
20050269558System and apparatus for reinforcing fence componentsDecember, 2005Keefe
20080315169Fencing and Fencing MountingsDecember, 2008Mcneill
20090022552Silt fencing systemJanuary, 2009Berenyi
20030164488Handrail connectionSeptember, 2003Terrels
20070138453Leaf Catcher DeviceJune, 2007Le
20060231821Gate for fence enclosuresOctober, 2006Gavin



Primary Examiner:
MACARTHUR, VICTOR L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANTONIO R. DURANDO (TUCSON, AZ, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An arrangement for connecting sections of a barrier to one another comprising: a first support to be held by a first component of the barrier; a second support to hold a second component of the barrier; and means for connecting said first support and said second support to one another such that said first support and said second support are relatively rotatable in two different planes.

2. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein said first support is provided with a passage for the first component of the barrier, said first support further being provided with a window in said passage, said connecting means including a joining member having a guiding section receivable in said passage with clearance so that said guiding section is movable back-and-forth within the window in said passage to thereby allow relative rotation of said first support and said second support in one of said planes.

3. The arrangement of claim 2, wherein said joining member includes a joining section designed to project through said window when said guiding section is in said passage, said joining section having a joining element for pivotally connecting said joining section to said second support such that said first support and said second support are relatively rotatable in the other of said planes.

4. The arrangement of claim 2, wherein said first support is provided with a curved first surface portion and said guiding section is provided with a second surface portion having substantially the same curvature as said first surface portion.

5. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein said second support is provided with a passage for the second component of the barrier, said second support further being provided with a gap, and said connecting means including a joining member having a joining section receivable in said gap, said second support and said joining section being provided with respective joining elements for pivotally connecting said joining section to said second support such that said first support and said second support are relatively rotatable in one of said planes.

6. The arrangement of claim 5, wherein said second support comprises a pair of substantially parallel walls in said passage defining said gap.

7. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein said second support has an end designed to face said first support, said end being convex.

8. The arrangement of claim 1, wherein said connecting means comprises a joining member having a curved section receivable by said first support for rotation relative to said first support in one of said planes, said joining member further having another section that projects from said curved section and is receivable by said second support such that said second support is rotatable relative to said another section in the other of said planes.

9. The arrangement of claim 8, wherein said joining member is provided with a connecting element for fixing said joining member to a surface.

10. The arrangement of claim 1, further comprising: a swivel carrier for a gate member, said carrier being rotatably engaged with the first component of the barrier under said first support; and a collar attached to said first component of the barrier for slidably supporting the carrier; wherein the carrier comprises a third support to hold said gate member, and said first and third supports are substantially aligned.

11. A barrier comprising: an elongated first component; an elongated second component transverse to said first component; and means for holding said second component on said first component so that said second component is carried by said first component, said holding means including a first support fixed to said first component, a second support fixed to said second component and means connecting said first support and said second support to one another such that said first support and said second support are relatively rotatable in two different planes.

12. The barrier of claim 11, wherein said first support is provided with a passage that receives said first component, said first support further being provided with a window in said passage, said connecting means including a joining member having a guiding section that is received in said passage with clearance so that said guiding section is movable back-and-forth within the window in said passage to thereby allow relative rotation of said first support and said second support in one of said planes.

13. The barrier of claim 12, wherein said joining member includes a joining section that projects through said window, said joining section being pivotally connected to said second support such that said first support and said second support are relatively rotatable in the other of said planes.

14. The barrier of claim 12, wherein said first support is provided with a curved first surface portion and said guiding section is provided with a second surface portion having substantially the same curvature as said first surface portion, said second surface portion confronting said first surface portion.

15. The barrier of claim 11, wherein said second support is provided with a passage that receives said second component, said second support further being provided with a gap, and said connecting means including a joining member having a joining section that extends into said gap, said joining section being pivotally connected to said second support such that said first support and said second support are relatively rotatable in one of said planes.

16. The barrier of claim 15, wherein said second support comprises a pair of substantially parallel walls in said passage defining said gap.

17. The barrier of claim 11, wherein said second support has an end that faces said first support, said end being convex.

18. The barrier of claim 11, wherein said connecting means comprises a joining member having a curved section that is received by said first support for rotation relative to said first support in one of said planes, said joining member further having another section that projects from said curved section and is received by said second support such that said second support is rotatable relative to said another section in the other of said planes.

19. The barrier of claim 18, wherein said joining member is provided with a connecting element for fixing said joining member to a surface.

20. The barrier of claim 11, further comprising: an elongated third component transverse to said first component; and a bracket for holding said third component, said bracket comprising two substantially equal parts with open slots for receiving said third component, such that the third component is enclosed by said slots when the parts are mated to form the bracket.

21. A method of connecting sections of a barrier to one another comprising the steps of: providing holding means having a first support and a second support; fixing said first support to a first component of said barrier; rotating said first support and said second support relative to one another in two different planes; and fixing said second support to a second component of said barrier.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. Ser. No. 11/559,498, filed on Nov. 14, 2006, which was based on Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/750,108, filed on Dec. 14, 2005; this application is also a continuation-in-part application of U.S. Ser. No. 11/804,833, filed on May 21, 2007, which was based on Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/835,203, filed on Aug. 3, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to an arrangement for connecting two or more sections of a barrier to one another.

2. Description of the Prior Art

A popular type of fence comprises spaced, upright posts that are anchored in the ground and horizontal or approximately horizontal rails running between the posts. Fencing material that is typically in the form of wire mesh depends from the rails.

At or near the upper end of each post is a connector that fits around the post, and each connector includes a number of tubular stubs equal to the number of rails that radiate from the respective posts. Each tubular stub receives and supports an end of a respective rail. The connectors are rigid units that can rotate on the posts but allow no adjustment to the terrain.

A connector that has become known recently comprises a support that fits around a post and a tubular stub pivotal on the support. When the support sits on a post, the tubular stub is pivotal in a vertical plane. This connector is of limited utility since it contains only one tubular stub that is pivotal in a single plane.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the invention resides in an arrangement for connecting sections of a barrier to one another. The arrangement comprises a first support to be held by a first component of the barrier, a second support to hold a second component of the barrier, and means for connecting the first support and the second support to one another such that the first support and the second support are relatively pivotal or rotatable in two different planes.

The first support can be provided with a passage for the first component of the barrier, and a pair of ribs defining a gap can be disposed in the passage. The connecting means may include a joining member having a guiding section receivable in the gap with clearance so that the guiding section is movable back-and-forth in the gap from one of the ribs to the other to thereby allow relative rotation of the first support and the second support in one of the planes.

The first support can further be provided with a window, and the joining member may include a joining section designed to project through the window when the guiding section is in the gap between the ribs. The joining section has a joining element for pivotally connecting the joining section to the second support such that the first support and the second support are relatively rotatable in the other of the planes.

The first support can have a curved first surface portion that bounds the gap between the ribs, and the guiding section may be provided with a second surface portion having substantially the same curvature as the first surface portion. In a preferred form of the joining member, the guiding section is curved and the joining section projects from the guiding section.

The second support can be provided with a passage for the second component of the barrier, and the second support can also be provided with a gap. The joining section is receivable in this gap, and the second support has a joining element for pivotally connecting the second support to the joining section such that the first support and the second support are relatively rotatable in the last-mentioned plane. A pair of parallel walls located in the passage of the second support can cooperate to define the gap in the second support.

The second support has an end designed to face the first support and this end is preferably convex.

The joining member can be provided with a connecting element for fixing the joining member to a surface.

Another aspect of the invention resides in a barrier that comprises an elongated first component, an elongated second component transverse to the first component, and means holding the second component on the first component so that the second component is carried by the first component. The holding means includes an arrangement as set forth above for connecting sections of a barrier to one another.

An additional aspect of the invention resides in a method of connecting sections of a barrier to one another. The method comprises the steps of providing holding means having a first support and a second support, fixing the first support to a first component of the barrier, and fixing the second support to a second component of the barrier. The method further comprises the step of rotating the first support and the second support relative to one another in two different planes.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be forthcoming from the following detailed description of certain preferred embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an arrangement in accordance with the invention for connecting sections of a barrier to one another with components of the barrier shown fragmentarily.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a carrier forming part of the arrangement of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a holder constituting part of the arrangement of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a hinge forming part of the arrangement of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the holder as seen from one end of the holder.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the holder of FIG. 5 as seen from an opposite end of the holder.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the carrier.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the carrier of FIG. 7 joined to the holder of FIGS. 5 and 6.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an additional embodiment of the carrier.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the carrier of FIG. 9 joined to three of the holders of FIGS. 5 and 6.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of the carrier.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the carrier of FIG. 11 joined to four of the holders of FIGS. 5 and 6.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the hinge.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a bracket holding a flexible flat rail coupled to a carrier of the invention.

FIG. 15 is a perspective, exploded view of the two equal parts constituting the bracket of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 illustrates the tongue extending from a carrier for attachment to the bracket of FIG. 15 according to the invention.

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a swivel carrier according to the invention for coupling a gate to the post of an adjacent fence section.

FIG. 18 shows the swivel carrier of FIG. 17 aligned with a fence-rail holder according to the invention.

FIG. 19 illustrates a gate hung to a post using the swivel carrier of FIG. 17.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The heart of the invention lies in a connector featuring two support members that are rotatable relative to one another in two different planes. Copending Ser. No. 11/559,498 describes an embodiment of the invention wherein the support members consist of connectors for attachment of fence rails to vertical posts of various configurations. The present invention is directed to a connector specifically designed for attachment of tubular rails to tubular posts, preferably made of the same stock material. Referring to FIG. 1, the numeral 10 identifies an arrangement according to the invention for connecting sections of a barrier to one another. The barrier is here assumed to be a fence of the type having posts or anchoring members that are spaced from each other, rails or bridging members running between the posts and, optionally, fencing material in the form of wire mesh depending from the rails. The posts will typically be anchored in the ground. In flat terrain, the posts will normally be upright or generally vertical while the rails will be generally horizontal.

The numeral 12 denotes a post or first component of the fence, the numerals 14 and 16 denote rails or second components of the fence and the numeral 18 denotes schematically fencing material in the form of wire mesh depending from the rails 14. The post 12 and the bridging members 14,16 are here in the form of tubes having annular transverse cross sections. The rail 14 and the fencing material 18 depending therefrom constitute, or constitute part of, one section of the fence while the rail 16 and the fencing material 18 depending therefrom constitute, or constitute part of, another section of the fence.

The connecting arrangement 10, which will be referred to as a connector in this description, comprises a carrier or first support 20 and two holders or second supports 22 and 24 mounted on the carrier 20. The carrier 20 fits around and is secured to the post 12, the holder 22 receives and is secured to an end of the rail 14, and the holder 24 receives and is secured to an end of the rail 16.

Turning to FIG. 2, the carrier 20 includes a tube 26 that is of circular transverse cross section and defines a carrier passage 28 running the length of the tube 26. A set of ribs 30 and a set of ribs 32 are affixed to the internal peripheral surface of the tube 26, and the ribs 30,32 run axially of the tube 26 along the length of the tube 26. In the illustrated embodiment, the number of ribs 30 is the same as the number of ribs 32, and each of the ribs 30 is located diametrically opposite a respective rib 32. Neighboring ribs 30 are spaced from one another circumferentially of the tube 26 by relatively small gaps as are neighboring ribs 32. A larger circumferential gap 34 free of ribs runs along the inner peripheral surface of the tube 26 between the set of ribs 30 and the set of ribs 32 at two diametrically opposite locations of the tube 26. The two larger circumferential gaps 34, which are curved, define respective arcs of the same arc length.

The tube 26 is provided with a window or cutout 36 in one of the larger circumferential gaps 34 and with a window or cutout 38 in the other of the larger circumferential gaps 34. The windows 36,38 are centered longitudinally of the tube 26 and are also centered relative to the respective larger circumferential gaps 34. The windows 36,38 are here approximately square or rectangular.

As shown in FIG. 1, a protrusion 40 is formed at one end of the tube 26 and has an end surface that faces away from the tube 26. A threaded opening 42 extends from this end surface to the internal peripheral surface of the tube 26, and the threaded opening 42 functions to receive a setscrew or fastening element 44 for fixing the carrier 20 to the post 12.

FIG. 3 illustrates the holder 22 that will be described with reference to this FIGURE. The description of the holder 22 also applies to the holder 24 inasmuch as the holders 22,24 are identical.

The holder 22 comprises a tubular part 46 of annular transverse cross section and a tubular part 48 that, in plan view, resembles a rectangle with rounded longitudinal ends. For simplicity, the tubular part 46 will be denoted the annular tubular part and the tubular part 48 will be denoted the rectangular tubular part.

The rectangular tubular part 48 includes two flat, elongated sidewalls 50 and 52 that are spaced from one another by a distance smaller than the inner diameter of the annular tubular part 46. The sidewall 50 has a longitudinal edge that adjoins the annular tubular part 46, and an end surface 56 of the annular tubular part 46 is fast with such longitudinal edge and is located on the side of the sidewall 50 remote from the side wall 52. The sidewall 52 likewise has a longitudinal edge that adjoins the annular tubular part 46, and a non-illustrated end surface of the annular tubular part 46 is fast with this longitudinal edge and is situated on the side of the side wall 52 remote from the side wall 50. The end surface 56 and non-illustrated end surface of the annular tubular part 46 are located in a common plane.

The rectangular tubular part 48 further includes two curved end walls 58 and 60 having an inner radius equal to the inner radius of the annular tubular part 46 and an outer radius equal to the outer radius of the annular tubular part 46. The end walls 58,60, which are flush with the peripheral wall of the annular tubular part 46 and can be considered to constitute extensions of such peripheral wall, are disposed at diametrically opposite locations of the annular tubular part 46. The two end walls 58,60 have the same length as considered circumferentially of the annular tubular part 46, and this length is a minor fraction of the circumference of the annular tubular part 46.

The end wall 58 has two ends as considered circumferentially of the annular tubular part 46, and each of the side walls 50,52 has a longitudinal end which is fast with a respective circumferential end of the end wall 58. Similarly, the end wall 60 has two ends as considered circumferentially of the annular tubular part 46, and each of the side walls 50,52 has a second longitudinal end which is fast with a respective circumferential end of the end wall 60.

The holder 22 is provided with a holder passage 64 having a portion of smaller cross-sectional area in the rectangular tubular part 48 and a portion of larger cross-sectional area in the annular tubular part 46. A non-illustrated dividing wall having a diameter equal to the inner diameter of the annular tubular part 46 is located in the holder passage 64 and separates the smaller holder passage portion from the larger portion. Non-illustrated ribs extending in axial direction of the annular tubular part 46 can be formed on the internal peripheral surface of the annular tubular part 46 and can run from the dividing wall to the end of the annular tubular part 46 remote from the rectangular tubular part 48.

Two flat partitions or walls 66 and 68 are disposed in the smaller holder passage portion, and the partitions 66,68 are parallel to the sidewalls 50,52 and bridge the end walls 58,60. The partitions 66,68 are spaced from one another and define a gap 70 that constitutes or resembles a slot.

The partition 66, which is disposed next to the sidewall 50, is separated from the latter by a space, and two parallel reinforcing strips 72 are located in this space. The reinforcing strips 72 are perpendicular to and bridge the sidewall 50 and the partition 66. The reinforcing strips 72 are spaced from each other and cooperate with the sidewall 50 and the partition 66 to form a chamber 74 that is centered between the end walls 58,60.

The partition 68, which is situated next to the sidewall 52, is separated from the latter by a space, and two parallel reinforcing strips 76 are disposed in such space. The reinforcing strips 76 are perpendicular to and bridge the sidewall 52 and the partition 68. The reinforcing strips 76 are spaced from one another and cooperate with the sidewall 52 and the partition 68 to form a chamber 78 that is centered between the end walls 58,60.

Each of the side walls 50,52 is formed with an opening or joining element 80 which is in line with the chambers 74,78 of the rectangular tubular part 48. Each of the partitions 66,68 is likewise provided with an opening or joining element 82 (only one visible in the drawings) that is in line with the chambers 74,78. The openings 80,82 are in register with one another.

Each of the sidewalls 50,52 has a convex edge 84 facing away from the annular tubular part 46. In a similar vein, each of the partitions 66,68 has a convex edge 86 facing away from the annular tubular part 46. The convex edges 84,86 lie on a common circular surface.

Considering FIG. 1 in conjunction with FIG. 3, two protrusions 88 are formed at diametrically opposite locations of the annular tubular part 46 in the region of the end of the annular tubular part 46 remote from the rectangular tubular part 48. Each of the protrusions 88 has an end surface that faces away from the annular tubular part 46, and a threaded opening 90 extends from each of these end surfaces to the internal peripheral surface of the annular tubular part 46. The threaded openings 90 function to receive setscrews or fastening elements 92 for fixing the holder 22 to the associated rail 14.

Turning to FIG. 4, the numeral 94 identifies a hinge or joining member. The hinge 94 comprises a guiding or bearing section 96 in the form of a curved plate, and the curved plate 96 defines an arc having opposite ends 98 and 100. A cutout 102 in the curved plate 96 extends from the end 98 partway to the end 100, and the portion of the curved plate 96 with the cutout 102 is divided into two legs or segments 104 and 106 by the cutout 102.

The cutout 102 has an end remote from the end 98 of the arc defined by the curved plate 96. A generally flat tongue or joining section 108 projects from the curved plate 96 at this end of the cutout 102, and the tongue 108 defines a plane that is transverse to the curved plate 96. The tongue 108, which is provided with an opening or joining element 110, is designed to extend through the windows 36,38 of the carrier 20 with clearance so that the tongue 108 can pivot or rotate in the windows 36,38. The tongue 108 is further designed to be received in the slot 70 of the holder 22.

The curved plate 96 has a convex surface 112, and the tongue 108 projects to the side of the curved plate 96 with the convex surface 112. When the tongue 108 is passed through a window 36,38 of the carrier 20 from the carrier passage 22, the curved plate 96 enters one of the larger circumferential gaps 34 of the carrier 20 with the convex surface 112 facing the inner peripheral surface of the carrier 20.

In use, the tongue 108 is positioned so that the plane of the tongue 108 is parallel to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20. The end 98 of the arc defined by the curved plate 96 then faces one of the ribs 30,32 adjoining the larger circumferential gap 34 which is to receive the curved plate 96 while the end 100 of the arc faces the other of these ribs 30,32. With the hinge 94 oriented in this manner, the contour of the convex surface 112 of the curved plate 96 conforms to the contour of the inner peripheral surface of the carrier 20 thereby allowing the convex surface 112 to be placed flush against such inner peripheral surface. Furthermore, the length of the arc defined by the curved plate 96 is less than the length of the arcs defined by the larger circumferential gaps 34, and the hinge 94 is accordingly free to pivot or rotate in circumferential direction of the carrier 20.

One manner of operation of the connector 10 is as follows:

The hinge 94 is inserted in the passage 22 of the carrier 20, and the tongue 108 is passed through one of the windows 36,38 of the carrier 20. The tongue 108 is oriented so that the plane of the tongue is parallel to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20.

The holder 22 is positioned with the slot 70 facing and in register with the tongue 108. The carrier 20 and holder 22 are relatively shifted towards each other to cause the tongue 108 to enter the slot 70. The tongue 108 is positioned in the slot 70 such that the opening 110 in the tongue 108 is aligned with the openings 80 in the sidewalls 50,52 of the holder 22 and the openings 82 in the partitions 66,68 of the holder 22. A bolt 114 having a head, and being discernible in FIG. 1 by virtue of this head, is thereupon inserted in the openings 80,82,110. The bolt 114 has a non-illustrated, threaded end opposite its head, and a non-illustrated nut is screwed onto the threaded end of the bolt to join the carrier 20 and the holder 22 to one another.

In order to prevent the non-illustrated dividing wall internally of the holder 22 from interfering with the tongue 108, the dividing wall may be provided with a slot-like aperture extending in a direction from the end wall 58 to the end wall 60 of the holder 22. The aperture is centered between the end walls 58,60 and is in register with the slot 70 of the holder 22. The length of the aperture is here a minor fraction of the distance between the end walls 58,60, i.e., a minor fraction of the inner diameter of the annular tubular part 46 of the holder 22, and the aperture coincides with the portion of the slot 70 between the chambers 74,78 of the holder 22.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, when the carrier 20 and the holder 22 are joined to each other, the convex edges 84 of the side walls 50,52 of the holder 22, as well as the convex edges 86 of the partitions 66,68 of the holder 22, face the outer peripheral surface of the carrier 20. On the other hand, the larger portion of the holder passage 64 in the holder 22 faces away from the carrier 20.

The bolt 114 connecting the carrier 20 and the holder 22 to each other constitutes a pivot that allows the carrier 20 and the holder 22 to undergo relative pivotal or rotational movement in a plane parallel to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20.

As mentioned earlier, the hinge 94 can pivot or rotate in circumferential direction of the carrier 20 when the tongue 108 of the hinge 94 extends through one of the windows 36,38 of the carrier 20 and the tongue 108 is oriented so that the plane of the tongue 108 is parallel to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20. This enables the carrier 20 and the holder 22 to undergo relative pivotal or rotational movement in a plane perpendicular to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20. Hence, the carrier 20 and the holder 22 are relatively pivotal or rotatable in two mutually perpendicular planes.

Relative pivotal or rotational movement of the carrier 20 and the holder 22 in a plane perpendicular to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20 makes it possible for a fence to bend or curve in order to follow a road or property line that winds. In contrast, relative pivotal or rotational movement of the carrier 20 and the holder 22 in a plane parallel to the ribs 30,32 enables a fence to adjust to changes in elevation.

By way of example, the carrier 20 and the hinge 94 can be designed to permit relative pivotal or rotational movement of the carrier 20 and the holder 22 through an angle of 12.5 degrees in a plane perpendicular to the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20. On the other hand, the carrier 20, the holder 22 and the hinge 94 can be designed to allow relative pivotal or rotational movement of the carrier 20 and the holder 22 through an angle of 25 degrees in a plane parallel to the ribs 30,32.

The holder 24 is attached to the carrier 20 in the manner described above for the holder 22. Attachment of the holder 24 to the carrier 20 is accomplished using the window 36 or 38 of the carrier 20 and the tongue 108.

With reference to FIG. 1, once the holders 22,24 have been joined to the carrier 20, the carrier 20 is positioned above the post 12 and the passage 28 in the carrier 20 is brought into register with the post 12. The carrier 20 is now lowered so that the post 12 enters the carrier passage 28. Once the upper end of the post 12 has passed through the carrier passage 28, the setscrew 44 is screwed into the threaded opening 42 of the carrier 20 to fix the carrier 20 on the post 12.

As indicated previously, an end of the rail 14 is received in the holder 22. When the carrier 20 has been secured to the post 12, this end of the rail 14 is positioned so that it faces the larger portion of the holder passage 64 in the holder 22, i.e., the portion of the holder passage 64 in the annular tubular part 46 of the holder 22. If the larger holder passage portion is not aligned with such end of the rail 14, the holder 22 is pivoted or rotated relative to the carrier 20 in a plane perpendicular to, and/or in a plane parallel to, the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20. Upon alignment of the larger holder passage portion with the adjoining end of the rail 14, this end of the rail 14 is inserted in the larger holder passage portion. The inserted end of the rail 14 can be brought to bear against the non-illustrated dividing wall internally of the holder 22, and the dividing wall then functions as an abutment for the inserted end of the rail 14. The setscrews 92 are thereupon screwed into the threaded openings 90 of the holder 22 to fix the rail 14 to the holder 22. The rail 14 is now mounted on the post 12 for pivotal or rotational movement in two different planes.

It may be necessary to adjust the rail 14 after the latter has been attached to the holder 22, e.g., in order to affix the opposite end of the rail 14 to a second post. This can be accomplished by gripping the rail 14 and using the same as a lever to pivot or rotate the holder 22 relative to the carrier 20 in a plane perpendicular to, and/or in a plane parallel to, the ribs 30,32 of the carrier 20.

The rail 16 is fixed to the holder 24 in the same way as the rail 14 is fixed to the holder 22.

The setscrews 92 and bolt 114 make it possible to readily replace the rail 14 should this be required, e.g., in the event of damage to the rail 14. Thus, once the setscrews 92 and bolt 1 14 have been removed, the holder 22 can be separated from the rail 14 relatively simply.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate another, preferred embodiment of a holder for a rail. In FIGS. 5 and 6, the same numerals as in FIG. 3, plus 100, are used to denote similar elements.

In contrast to the holder 22 of FIG. 3, the holder 122 of FIGS. 5 and 6 comprises a tube that is of uniform cross section throughout its length and defines a holder passage 164 of constant cross-sectional area.

The dividing wall internally of the holder 122 is seen in FIG. 6 and is identified by the numeral 300. The slot-like aperture in the dividing wall 300 is denoted by 302 and has a length exceeding that of the slot-like aperture in the non-illustrated dividing wall of the holder 22. The length of the slot-like aperture 302 is equal to a major fraction of the inner diameter of the holder 122.

The slot 70 of the holder 22 has a longitudinal end adjacent to the end wall 58 and an opposed longitudinal end adjacent to the end wall 60, and the two longitudinal ends of the slot 70 are closed by the respective end walls 58,60. On the other hand, one of the longitudinal ends of the slot 170 of the holder 122 is open by virtue of a slot-like cutout 304 formed in the peripheral wall of the holder 122 in register with the slot 170. The length of the cutout 304 as considered in axial direction of the holder 122 is equal, or approximately equal, to the depth of the slot 170 as considered in such direction.

The axes of the threaded openings 90 which are provided to fix the holder 22 to the rail 14 are perpendicular to the partitions 66,68 of the holder 22. In contrast, the axes of the corresponding threaded openings 190 in the holder 122 are parallel to the partitions 166,168 of the holder 122.

Both of the openings 80 which enable the holder 22 to be attached to the tongue 94 are unthreaded and pass through the respective side walls 50,52. On the other hand, one of the two corresponding openings of the holder 122 is threaded and does not extend all the way through the peripheral wall of the holder 122. This threaded opening of the holder 122, which is identified by the numeral 180a, makes it possible for a threaded bolt, such as the bolt 114 of FIG. 1, to be screwed into the peripheral wall of the holder 122 and to be held in place without a nut.

As indicated above, the holder 122 has two openings corresponding to the two openings 80 of the holder 22, and the second of these corresponding openings of the holder 122 is denoted by 180b. While both openings 80 of the holder 22 are smaller than the head of the bolt 114 that serves to attach the tongue 94 to the holder 22, the opening 180b is sufficiently large to receive the head of a bolt that is screwed into the threaded opening 180a. This allows the head of such a bolt to be recessed in the opening 180b.

Other than as outlined above, the holder 122 is identical to the holder 22.

The carrier 20 of FIG. 2 is designed for attachment to two rails. FIG. 7, on the other hand, illustrates a carrier that is attachable to a single rail only, such as at the end of a fence butting against a wall. Either carrier may be used with either form of holder described herein. In FIG. 7, the same numerals as in FIG. 2, plus 200, are used to denote similar elements.

The carrier 220 of FIG. 7 differs from the carrier 20 of FIG. 2 in that only one set of ribs is affixed to the internal peripheral surface of the tube 226 constituting part of the carrier 220. The set includes a rib 230a that, in clockwise direction, is followed by a plurality of ribs 230 and a terminal rib 230b. Neighboring ones of the ribs 230 are spaced from one another circumferentially of the tube 226 by relatively small gaps and, similarly, each of the ribs 230a,230b is spaced from the respective neighboring rib 230 circumferentially of the tube 226 by a relatively small circumferential gap. On the other hand, a larger circumferential gap 234 free of ribs runs along the inner peripheral surface of the tube 226 between the rib 230b and the rib 230a.

The tube 226 is provided with a window 236 in the larger circumferential gap 234. The window 236 is centered longitudinally of the tube 226 and is also centered with respect to the larger circumferential gap 234.

Since the carrier 220 has only a single window 236, only a single holder can be attached to the carrier 220 at any time. This is illustrated in FIG. 8 where the holder 122 is joined to the carrier 220 by way of the hinge 94. Inasmuch as the carrier 220 is attachable to only one holder at a time, the carrier 220 can be attached to only a single rail at any time.

In FIG. 8, a bolt connects the hinge 94 to the holder 122. The bolt has a head 214 that is recessed in the opening 180b of the holder 122. Also visible in FIG. 8 are setscrews 292 in the threaded openings 190 of the holder 122. The setscrews 292 functions to fix the holder 122 to a non-illustrated rail that is received in the holder passage 164 of the holder 122. Another setscrew 294 is seen in the threaded opening 242 of the carrier 220, and the setscrew 294 serves to secure the carrier 220 to a non-illustrated post on which the carrier 220 is mounted.

An additional embodiment of a carrier is shown in FIG. 9 where the same numerals as in FIG. 7, plus 100, denote similar elements.

In the carrier 320 of FIG. 9, the internal peripheral surface of the tube 326 forming part of the carrier 320 is provided with a set of ribs 330, a rib 332a and a rib 332b. Neighboring ones of the ribs 330 are spaced from one another circumferentially of the tube 326 by relatively small gaps. On the other hand, a larger circumferential gap 334 free of ribs runs along the inner peripheral surface of the tube 226 between the ribs 332a,332b and between each of the ribs 332a,332b and the rib 330 closest thereto.

The tube 326 is provided with a window 336 in each of the three larger circumferential gaps 334. The windows 336 are centered longitudinally of the tube 326, and each of the windows 336 is also centered with respect to the respective larger circumferential gap 334.

The three windows 336 make it possible for the carrier 320 to be attached to three holders simultaneously. This is illustrated in FIG. 10 where three of the holders 122 are attached to the carrier 320 by way of three of the hinges 94. Each of the hinges 94 extends through a respective window 336 of the carrier 320.

In FIG. 10, each of the hinges 94 is connected to the corresponding holder 122 via a bolt having a head 214 that is recessed in the opening 180b of the corresponding holder 122 (only two of the openings 180b and two of the heads 214 can be seen in FIG. 10). Also visible in FIG. 10 are the setscrews 292 in respective threaded openings 190 of the holders 122. The setscrews 292 serve to fix each of the holders 122 to a respective non-illustrated rail that is received in the holder passage 164 of the associated holder 122. FIG. 10 further shows the setscrew 294 that has been inserted in the threaded opening 342 of the carrier 320 and functions to secure the carrier 320 to a non-illustrated post supporting the carrier 320.

A further embodiment of a carrier is shown in FIG. 11 where the same numerals as in FIG. 9, plus 100, identify similar elements.

The internal peripheral surface of the tube 426 forming part of the carrier 420 of FIG. 11 is provided with four ribs 432a, 432b, 432c and 432d that are uniformly distributed circumferentially of the tube 426. The rib 432a is situated between the ribs 432b and 432d, and a circumferential gap 434 free of ribs runs along the inner peripheral surface of the tube 426 between the ribs 432a,432b and between the ribs 432a,432d. Similarly, the rib 432c is situated between the ribs 432b and 432d, and a circumferential gap 434 free of ribs runs along the inner peripheral surface of the tube 426 between the ribs 432c,432b and between the ribs 432c,432d.

The tube 426 is provided with a window 436 in each of the four circumferential gaps 434. The windows 436 are centered longitudinally of the tube 426, and each of the windows 436 is also centered with respect to the respective circumferential gap 434.

The four windows 436 enable the carrier 420 to be attached to four holders concurrently. FIG. 12 shows the carrier 420 attached to four of the holders 122 via four of the hinges 94. Each of the hinges 94 passes through a respective window 436 of the carrier 420.

In FIG. 12, each of the hinges 94 is connected to the corresponding holder 122 by way of a bolt having a head 214 that is recessed in the opening 180b of the corresponding holder 122 (only two of the openings 180b and two of the heads 214 can be seen in FIG. 12). Also shown in FIG. 12 are setscrews 292 in respective threaded openings 190 of the holders 122. The setscrews 292 serve to fix each of the holders 122 to a respective non-illustrated rail that is received in the holder passage 164 of the associated holder 122.

Another embodiment of the hinge is illustrated in FIG. 13 where the same numerals as in FIG. 4, plus 100, denote similar elements.

The hinge 194 of FIG. 13 differs from the hinge 94 of FIG. 4 in that an aperture or connecting element 216 is formed in each of the legs 204,206 of the hinge 194. The apertures 204,206 make it possible to screw, nail or bolt the hinge 194 to the surface of an object, e.g., a structure or tree, thereby allowing it to connect to a holder at the end of a fence without the use of an additional post 12.

It is common in the construction of fences to replace some or all of the tubular rails illustrated in the figures above with a flexible flat rail 500, as shown in FIG. 14. The rail 500 has a similar appearance from a distance and is less expensive and more easily manageable than tubular material. Therefore, it is often desirable to use it either in conjunction with, or instead of, heavier and rigid segments of tubular sections. The flat rail 500 is typically mounted on brackets attached to fencing posts or other supports. FIG. 14 illustrates a bracket 502 developed as an accessory component to the carriers and supports of the present invention.

The bracket 502 consists of two identical parts 504 that, when combined, mate to form a bracket suitable for connection to the tongue 108 extending from the carriers of the invention. As seen more particularly in the exploded view of FIG. 15, each part 504 of the bracket includes an open elongated slot 506 that makes it possible to place the part over the flat rail 500 so that the rail is housed in the slot. The two parts 504 are mounted facing each other and, when connected to one another through alignment pins 508 and corresponding receiving openings 510, they form an enclosed elongated slot 512 around the rail 500, as seen in FIG. 14. Therefore, the bracket 502 can be used advantageously to replace a broken bracket in a fence without detaching the rail 500 from adjacent posts and brackets.

Each part 504 of the bracket 502 includes a hole 514 for coupling to the tongue 108 protruding from a carrier of the invention, such as the single-window carrier 220 seen in FIGS. 7 and 16. A threaded bolt 516, passed through the holes 514 and the opening 110 of the tongue, and a nut (not shown) are used to clamp the bracket parts together and secure the bracket 502 to a carrier of the invention. The carrier is positioned and fixed to a post 12 using a setscrew as described above.

Flexible rails of the type shown in FIG. 14 are often electrified to deter contact by the horses or other animals confined by the fence. Such electrification is implemented either by means of wires 518 incorporated in the rail 500, such as along the top and bottom edges of the rail, or by separate cables stretched from post to post alongside the rail. For the latter application, the bracket 502 of the invention may also feature rounded slots 520 suitable for receiving such cables. As in the case of the elongated slot 512, the rounded slots 520 are formed by mating complementary slot sections 522 in each of the bracket parts 504.

Another accessory component for the system of the invention is a swivel carrier for a gate. As illustrated in FIG. 17, such a swivel carrier 600 consists of a tubular sleeve 602, adapted for rotatable connection with the tubular posts 12 of the invention, and a rail support 604 rigidly attached to the sleeve. Like the holders 22,24 described above, the support 604 is designed to receive and secure the end of a tubular rail component of a gate. According to the invention, the support 604 is attached to the sleeve 602 by means of a bracket 606 that places the support 604 above the top rim 608 of the sleeve 602. This configuration makes it possible to add a carrier 220 and a holder 122 (as seen in FIG. 8) opposite to, and at the same height of, the support 604, as illustrated in FIG. 18. A collar 610 is secured with a setscrew 612 at the desired height along the length of the post 12 to retain the swivel carrier 600 in line with the abutting segment of fence rail, so that the rail component 614 of a gate is aligned with the fence rail 16, as illustrated in FIG. 19.

Thus, the swivel carrier 600 of the invention may be used with the other components of the system to create a series of gate hinges (as necessary to support the gate of interest) using the same post planted to support the adjacent segment of fence. As illustrated by the arrow in FIG. 19, the rotatable connection of each swivel carrier 600 with the post 12 allows a gate 520 to swivel freely around the post, thereby providing an effective coupling mechanism. Moreover, the configuration of the swivel carrier 600 produces a fence/gate combination of similar geometry, which is aesthetically pleasing and desirable.

Various modifications are possible within the meaning and range of equivalence of the appended claims.