Title:
Awning clamping assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A clamping assembly for securing the canopy of a retractable awning mounted on a recreational vehicle, including one or more clamp members, each having a top section and a bottom section positioned in face opposed relation with each section having a back surface and a front surface. Each back surface includes a protruding member with an opening adapted, when aligned, to receive a means to attach the clamp member to support arms. The front surfaces form a pair of projecting face opposed clamping flanges with a space in between the two to engage the canopy material. Also provided is a pair of spring-loaded lever arms adapted for pivotal movement between a vertical position to enable the flanges to engage the canopy material in a releasable grip and a horizontal position to enable the flanges to separate and release their grip on the canopy. Rotating the lever arms in opposite directions act to adjust the tightness of the grip the flanges have on the canopy material.



Inventors:
Lunder, Dennis (Mission Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/893948
Publication Date:
02/26/2009
Filing Date:
08/20/2007
Assignee:
VALTERRA PRODUCTS, INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F10/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LARRY F. GITLIN, ESQ. (Woodland Hills, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A clamping assembly for securing the canopy of a retractable awning mounted on a recreational vehicle having a retractably mounted first support arm and a second support arm, the combination comprising, a. one or more clamp members each having a top section and a bottom section positioned in face opposed relation, said top section and said bottom section each having an outside surface, an inside surface, a back surface and a front surface, said back surface of each said section having a protruding member formed along a portion of said surface with an opening, said openings being aligned and adapted to receive means to attach one of said clamp members to either of said support arms, said front surfaces of said sections forming a pair of projecting face opposed clamping flanges with a space in between said projecting clamping flanges adapted to receive a portion of said canopy; and, b. a pair of lever arms, each of said lever arms being pivotally mounted at either end of one of said clamp members and adapted for pivotal movement about an axis between a first position to enable said projecting clamping flanges to engage a portion of said canopy and secure said canopy in a vise-like releasable grip and a second position to enable said projecting clamping flanges to separate and release their grip on said canopy.

2. The clamping assembly of claim 1 wherein each of said clamp member is elongated and tubular in form.

3. The clamping assembly of claim 1 wherein either of said lever arms in said first position is horizontally disposed and either of said lever arms in said second position is vertically disposed.

4. The clamping assembly of claim 3 wherein said lever arms are spring-loaded.

5. The clamping assembly of claim 1 wherein each of said lever arms is adapted to be rotated in one direction to draw said projecting clamping flanges closer and increase the tightness of said projecting flanges acting upon a portion of said canopy or rotated in the opposite direction to separate said projecting clamping flanges and decrease the tightness of said projecting flanges acting upon a portion of said canopy.

6. The clamping assembly of claim 1 wherein said means to attach said clamp member comprises an adjustable support strap.

7. The clamping assembly of claim 1 wherein said first and second retractable support arms are each comprised of rotatably attached first and second leg sections.

8. A clamping assembly for securing the canopy of a retractable awning mounted on a recreational vehicle having a retractably mounted first support arm and a second support arm, the combination comprising, a. one or more clamp members, each of said clamp members having a top surface, a bottom surface, a rear surface and a front surface, said rear surface of each of said clamp members having a flange formed along said rear surface with one or more openings formed within said flange, said openings being adapted to receive means to attach one of said clamp members to one of said support arms, said front surface of said clamp member having a pair of projecting face opposed clamping flanges with a space in between said projecting flanges adapted to receive a portion of said canopy; and, b. a pair of lever arms, each of said lever arms being pivotally mounted at either end of one of said clamp members and adapted for pivotal movement about an axis between a first position to cause said projecting flanges to engage a portion of said canopy and secure said canopy in a vise-like releasable grip and a second position to cause said projecting flanges to separate and release their grip on said canopy.

9. The clamping assembly of claim 1 wherein said openings are slotted.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of awnings used with recreational vehicles and, more particularly, to an improved assembly for grabbing and stabilizing an awning canopy to eliminate or at least minimize the flapping of the canopy material and the loud and annoying flapping sounds normally associated therewith.

2. Description of the Prior Art

A preliminary patentability and novelty search in connection with the present invention has revealed the existence of the following U.S. patents:

1. U.S. Pat. No. D386,076: This reference is directed to the ornamental design for an awning clamp as shown in FIGS. 1-6. The structure is a U-shaped clamp with textured jaws to grip the awning. The clamp is apparently opened by being resilient and closed by means of a thumb screw located halfway between the jaws and the U bend.

2. U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,850: This reference is directed to a dual grip clamp for securing an awning to an awning support brace. The clamp has one pair of jaws having the confronting surfaces coated with a fabric or rubber surface to provide non-slip frictional engagement of the awning. The opposite end of the clamp has a pair of confronting surfaces adapted to engage a square awning brace. About midway between the two sets of jaws is disposed a screw and wing nut for securing the clamp on the awning brace and awning material.

3. U.S. Pat. No. 5,314,153: This reference is directed to an awning clamp to prevent flapping of the awning in the wind. To install the clamp that is shown in FIG. 2, screw 10 is removed and jaw 2 is rotated on hinge screw 5 away from jaw 3. This opens the cavity between plate 8 and 9 allowing installation over the awning brace 20. Screw 6 engages slot 7 and maintains the spacing between jaws 8 and 9. This screw can be loosened for adjusting the spacing. With the clamp installed over the awning brace, the awning is placed between jaws 2 and 3 and screw 10 used to secure the jaws on the awning.

4. U.S. Pat. No. D375,893: This reference is directed to the ornamental design for an awning stabilizer clamp as shown in FIGS. 1-7. The clamp appears to be injection molded plastic formed in two mating pieces with the large jaw area having a textured surface apparently for engaging the awning material. The drawings show a screw and thumb nut that apparently can be placed in either of two openings in the arms.

5. U.S. Pat. No. 6,292,987: This reference is directed to a tie-down device that can couple to tarp material without putting excessive stress on the material. The device is for use under tension. The tie-down device comprises a pair of cylindrical tubes, an inner tube with an attached eyebolt and an outer split tube. To use the tie-down device, the sheet material is placed or partially wrapped about the inner tube and then inserted into the outer sleeve through the open end. The eyebolt on the inner cylinder is snapped into one of the notches on the outer sleeve, thus preventing any side slippage of the inner tube. This tie-down can be easily moved anywhere on the sheet material.

It requires only a cursory examination of the aforesaid listed patents to understand that their respective teachings disclose articles that are vastly different from the present invention in terms of both structure and function.

Retractable recreational vehicle awnings, or canopies as they are also known, are not new in the prior art. Recreational vehicles have used awnings for many years to provide shade and protection from the elements. In a typical assembly, the awning canopy is extended outward from the recreational vehicle on a roller device. Retractable side support braces or some other similarly suitable assembly are employed as a frame for stability. Extending these support braces fully from their mounted position on the side of the vehicle causes the canopy to be pulled and held taut. However, the side edges of the canopy material are not typically secured to the braces leaving the relatively loosely held material exposed to the effects of the wind. Increased or high winds are common, for example, on land adjacent to coastal waters or in such wide open spaces such as the desert Southwest. When the winds pick up, they tend to cause the canopy material to rapidly flap up and down, which creates loud and annoying sounds.

To eliminate, or at least minimize, the annoyance associated with this condition, all types of devices have been utilized. Yet most, if not all, are either too complex in structure and/or too inadequate in size and function to operate effectively and achieve the intended objective.

Accordingly, nothing in the prior art provides an assembly that is as capable and versatile as the assembly of the present invention, particularly with regard to its ability to cover and affect a considerably larger portion of the edge sections of the canopy material, which, in turn, provides superior adjustable control over the rapid and often intense flapping of the material, and to engage and disengage from the canopy with such ease and convenience.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a clamping assembly for securing the canopy of a retractable awning mounted on a recreational vehicle. Provided are retractable first and second support arms adapted to mount and secure the canopy to the recreational vehicle. Also provided are one or more clamp members each having a top section and a bottom section positioned in face opposed relation with the top section and the bottom section each having an outside surface, an inside surface, a back surface and a front surface. The back surface of each section includes a protruding member with an opening. These openings are aligned and adapted to receive a means to attach the clamp member to either of the support arms. The front surfaces of the two sections form a pair of projecting face opposed clamping flanges with a space in between the projecting clamping flanges adapted to receive a portion of the canopy material. Also provided is a pair of lever arms, which are individually pivotally mounted at either end of the clamp member and adapted for pivotal movement about an axis between a first position to enable the projecting clamping flanges to engage a portion of the canopy material and secure the canopy in a vise-like releasable grip and a second position to enable the projecting clamping flanges to separate and release their grip on the canopy.

The lever arms are spring-loaded and, in the first position, are horizontally disposed. In the second position they are vertically disposed. The lever arms are adapted to be rotated in one direction to draw the projecting clamping flanges closer and increase the tightness of the projecting flanges acting upon a portion of the canopy or rotated in the opposite direction to separate the projecting clamping flanges and decrease the tightness of the projecting flanges acting upon a portion of the canopy.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a clamping assembly to secure the canopy of a retractable awning mounted on a recreational vehicle.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a clamping assembly which, by virtue of its elongated structure, maximizes its fundamental effectiveness by engaging a larger surface area of the canopy material.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a clamping assembly with the ability to cover and effect a considerably larger portion of the canopy edge sections to provide superior control over the rapid and annoying flapping of the canopy material.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a clamping assembly with the ability to adjust the tightness of the clamping component once the assembly engages and secures the canopy material.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a clamping assembly with the ability to engage and disengage from the canopy material and be relocated at various positions along the canopy edges with ease and convenience.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a clamping assembly which is easy and cost effective to manufacture.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent in the following specifications when considered in light of the attached drawings wherein the preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of the clamping assembly of the present invention shown mounted to a recreational vehicle.

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of the clamping assembly of the present invention shown mounted along the edges on each side of the extended canopy of a recreational vehicle.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the assembly shown mounted to a recreational vehicle and used in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a clamping assembly in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional view of the clamping assembly in the open position in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4B is a cross-sectional view of the clamping assembly in the closed position in accordance with the present invention shown along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 4C is a partial enlarged view in cross-section of a portion of the clamping assembly in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4D is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the clamping assembly in accordance with the present invention shown along lines 4D-4D of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5A is a cross-sectional view of the clamping assembly of the present invention shown with the lever arm in the vertical position being rotated clockwise.

FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional view of the clamping assembly of the present invention shown with the lever arm in the horizontal position being rotated counterclockwise.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the clamping assembly in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of principal elements of the clamping assembly of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention provides a clamping assembly 10 shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B mounted to one edge of canopy 16 of recreational vehicle 14. Clamping assembly 10 is provided to secure the material of canopy 16 to support braces 22 and 24, which are the principal components of a support sub-assembly comprising upper support braces 18 and 20 and lower support braces 26 and 28.

In the preferred embodiment employing two separate clamping assemblies along the opposing side edges 27 and 29 of canopy 16, first clamp member 30 and second clamp member 32, which may be elongated and tubular in form, are provided with each having a top section 34 and a bottom section 36.

Top section 34 has an outside surface 38, an inside surface 40, a back surface 37 and a front surface 39. Bottom section 36 has an outside surface 41, an inside surface 42, a back surface 43 and a front surface 44. Protruding from one end of back surface 37 of top section 34 is member 45 having opening 46. Protruding from one end of back surface 43 of bottom section 36 is member 47 having opening 48. Corresponding members 45a and 47a protrude from back surfaces 37 and 43, respectively. Members 45a and 47a have openings 46a and 48a, respectively. When top section 34 and bottom section 36 are joined, openings 46 and 48 and 46a and 48a are aligned and adapted to receive a means, such as cloth strap 50, to attach clamp members 30 and 32 to support arms 18 and 20, respectively. Front surfaces 39 and 44 together form a pair of projecting face opposed clamping flanges 52 and 54 with a space in between adapted to receive a portion of the material of canopy 16 along a section of edge 27 or edge 29, as the case may be.

Positioned approximately at ends 62 and 63 of clamp member 30 are spring-loaded lever arms 66 and 68, respectively. Lever arms 66 and 68 are each mounted for pivotal movement about an axis between a generally vertical position 70 to enable projecting flanges 52 and 54 to separate, as shown in FIG. 4A, and generally horizontal position 72 to enable projecting flanges 52 and 54 to close, as shown in FIG. 4B. In the closed position (FIG. 4B), flanges 52 and 54 engage and are made to grip edge section 27.

Subassembly 74 is comprised of single lever arm 66, vertical pin 76, which traverses longitudinal opening 78 of clamp member 30, spring 80, which encircles the length of threaded pin 76, and nut 82 integrally formed with inside surface 42, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, or provided as a separate piece, which serves to anchor pin 76 at end 84 opposite the lever arms and enables pin 76 to rotate. Lever arms 66 and 68, when horizontally disposed, are held in a locked position with the aid of the tension in compressed spring 80. When vertically disposed, lever arms 66 and 68 are held in the unlocked position, with the aid of the lack of tension in decompressed spring 80. Lever arms 66 and 68 are adapted to be rotated in one direction (e.g. clockwise FIG. 5A) to draw projecting clamping flanges 52 and 54 closer together and increase the tightness of clamping flanges 52 and 54 when they are caused to act upon the edges of canopy 16. Rotated in the opposite direction (e.g. counterclockwise FIG. 5B), lever arms 66 and 68 cause clamping flanges 52 and 54 to separate and act to decrease the tightness of flanges 52 and 54 acting upon the edges of canopy 16.

Clamp members 30 and 32 can easily be adjusted to be moved along the entire length of edge sections 27 and 29 by disengaging projecting flanges 52 and 54 and then sliding the clamp members along upper support braces 18 and 20 to the desired location, where flanges 52 and 54 may again engage and grip canopy 16 to secure the material from uncontrollable flapping.

FIG. 6 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention with clamping assembly 10 shown as an integrated part on one side and separating flanges 52 and 54 on the opposite side. A one piece flange-like part 90 protruding from backside 92 of assembly 10 incorporates slotted openings 94 and 96 at each end for receiving strap 50 for use in securing assembly 10 to canopy 16.

While the invention will be described in connection with a certain preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that it is not intended to limit the invention to that particular embodiment. Rather, it is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.





 
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