Title:
BOARDING LADDER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boarding ladder includes an upper step having a first and second collar, a lower step having a left and right side selectively slidably engaged with the first and second collar, respectively, with the lower step selectively slidable between raised and lowered positions. Left and right extensions are pivotally engaged with the left and right sides, respectively, with the left and right extensions pivoting between folded and extended positions. The left and right extensions are selectively slidably engaged with the first and second collars, respectively, in the extended position. A method of lowering a boarding ladder includes pivoting a left and right extension of a lower step to an extended position, disengaging a retention member from an upper step and the lower step, and lowering the lower step from the upper step until a stop on each of the left and right extensions abuts the upper step.



Inventors:
Huddleston, Rick (Gassville, AR, US)
Application Number:
11/843317
Publication Date:
02/26/2009
Filing Date:
08/22/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
182/163, 114/362
International Classes:
B63B27/14
View Patent Images:
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20010013446Scaffolding frameAugust, 2001Krause
20030034204Fire escape chute for a buildingFebruary, 2003Dotson et al.
20080060872Fall Arrest LanyardMarch, 2008Wise
20030196854Ladder support rod systemOctober, 2003Terry Sr.
20030132062Bathtub protection and work platform deviceJuly, 2003Graham
20070163835Safety device for a fall restraintJuly, 2007Mastenbroek



Primary Examiner:
BRADFORD, CANDACE L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A boarding ladder assembly, comprising: an upper step assembly including a first collar and a second collar; a lower step assembly having a left side and a right side selectively slidably engaged with the first collar and the second collar, respectively, wherein the lower step assembly is selectively slidable between a raised position and a lowered position; and a left extension and a right extension pivotally engaged with the left side and the right side, respectively, the left and right extensions selectively pivot between a folded position and an extended position, wherein the left extension and the right extension are selectively slidably engaged with the first collar and the second collar, respectively, in the extended position.

2. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein a central axis of each of the first and second collars is generally perpendicular to a step portion of the upper step assembly.

3. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a retention member selectively engaged with the upper step assembly and the lower step assembly.

4. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 3, wherein the retention member is a dowel pin.

5. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein ends of the left and right extensions are pivotally engaged with bifurcated ends of the left and right sides, respectively, of the lower step assembly.

6. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 5, wherein indent balls in the bifurcated ends of the left and right sides engage indentations in the ends of the left and right extensions, respectively.

7. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the left and right extensions includes a stop.

8. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 7, wherein the stop is a roll pin.

9. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper step assembly and the lower step assembly are manufactured from grade 304 stainless steel.

10. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a bushing disposed between the first collar of the upper step assembly and the left side of the lower step assembly and the second collar of the upper step assembly and the right side of the lower step assembly.

11. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 10, wherein the bushing is a nylon material.

12. A boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the upper step assembly includes mounting brackets for mounting to a boat.

13. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly, comprising: pivoting a left extension and a right extension of a lower step assembly from a folded position to an extended position; disengaging a retention member from engagement with an upper step assembly and the lower step assembly; and lowering the lower step assembly from the upper step assembly until a stop on each of the left extension and right extension abuts the upper step assembly.

14. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 13, wherein the left extension and the right extension are generally perpendicular to a left side and a right side of the lower step assembly, respectively, in the folded position.

15. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 13, wherein the upper step assembly includes a first collar and a second collar that are selectively slidably engaged with a left side and a right side of the lower step assembly.

16. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 15 wherein the left extension is pivotally engaged with the left side and the right extension is pivotally engaged with the right side.

17. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 15, wherein the retention member is selectively engaged with the first collar of the upper step assembly and the left side of the lower step assembly.

18. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 17, wherein the retention member is a dowel pin.

19. A method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly as claimed in claim 13, wherein the stop is a roll pin.

20. A boat comprising: a boat hull; an upper step assembly mounted to the boat hull, a step portion of the upper step assembly being generally parallel to a boat deck and including a first collar and a second collar; a lower step assembly having a left side and a right side selectively slidably engaged with the first collar and the second collar, respectively, wherein the lower step assembly is selectively slidable between a raised position and a lowered position; and a left extension and a right extension pivotally engaged with the left side and the right side, respectively, wherein the left and right extensions selectively pivot between a folded position and an extended position.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a boarding ladder for a boat, and more particularly, to an extendable boarding ladder.

BACKGROUND

Boats are used for many different recreational activities including, but not limited to, water skiing. Often times during these recreational activities, a person in the water wishes to board the boat. However, due to the size of boat ladders and spatial constraints in the boat, storage of these ladders becomes difficult. In addition, boat ladders are often difficult to use to get out of the water. Therefore, a need exists for a compact boat ladder that allows easier entry into a boat.

SUMMARY

An aspect of the present disclosure relates to a boarding ladder assembly including an upper step assembly having a first collar and a second collar. A lower step assembly includes a left side and a right side that are selectively slidably engaged with the first collar and the second collar, respectively, such that the lower step assembly is selectively slidable between a raised position and a lowered position. A left extension and a right extension are pivotally engaged with the left side and the right side, respectively, such that the left extension and the right extension pivot between a folded position and an extended position. The left extension and the right extension are selectively slidably engaged with the first collar and the second collar, respectively, in the extended position.

Another aspect of the present disclosure relates to a method of lowering a boarding ladder assembly. The method includes pivoting a left extension and a right extension of a lower step assembly to an extended position. A retention member is disengaged from engagement with an upper step assembly and the lower step assembly. The lower step assembly is lowered from the upper step assembly until a stop on each of the left extension and the right extension abuts the upper step assembly.

Another aspect of the present disclosure relates to a boat. The boat includes a boat hull. An upper step assembly is mounted to the boat hull such that a step portion of the upper step assembly is generally parallel to a deck of the boat. The upper step assembly includes a first collar and a second collar. A lower step assembly includes a left side and a right side that are selectively slidably engaged with the first collar and the second collar, respectively. The lower step assembly is selectively slidable between a raised position and a lowered position. A left extension and a right extension are pivotally engaged with the left side and the right side, respectively. The left and right extensions selectively pivot between a folded position and an extended position.

A variety of additional aspects will be set forth in the description that follows. These aspects can relate to individual features and to combinations of features. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the broad concepts upon which the embodiments disclosed herein are based.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary isometric view of a boat with a boarding ladder assembly having features that are examples of inventive aspects in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the boarding ladder assembly of FIG. 1 in a stowed position.

FIG. 3 is a left side view of the boarding ladder assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the boarding ladder assembly of FIG. 2 with a right extension in an extended position.

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the boarding ladder assembly of FIG. 2 with the right extension and a left extension in the extended position.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the boarding ladder assembly of FIG. 2 with a retention pin disengaged.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of the boarding ladder assembly of FIG. 2 with a lower step assembly in a lowered position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the exemplary aspects of the present disclosure that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like structure.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a boat 2 is shown. The boat 2 includes a deck 4 and a hull 6. The hull 6 includes a transom area 8 having a port side and a starboard side. Disposed on the port side of the transom area 8 of the boat hull 6 is a boarding ladder assembly, generally designated 10, for boarding the boat 2. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the boarding ladder assembly 10 being disposed on the port side of the transom area 8 of the hull 6.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the boarding ladder assembly 10 is shown. The boarding ladder assembly 10 includes an upper step assembly, generally designated 12, and a lower step assembly, generally designated 14.

The upper step assembly 12 includes a step portion 16, a left side portion 18 and a right side portion 20. The left and right side portions 18, 20 extend outwardly from the step portion 16. In the subject embodiment, the left and right side portions 18, 20 extend in a generally perpendicular direction relative to a length L1 of the step portion 16 such that the left and right side portions 18, 20 and the step portion 16 cooperate to define a generally U-shaped structure. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the left and right side portions 18, 20 extending outwardly from the step portion 16 in a generally perpendicular direction or to defining a generally U-shaped structure.

The upper step assembly 12 further includes a first collar 22 and a second collar 24. In the subject embodiment, the first collar 22 is welded to the left side portion 18 of the upper step assembly 12 and a first end 26 of the step portion 16. The second collar 24 is welded to the right side portion 20 and a second end 28 of the step portion 16. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the first and second collars 22, 24 being welded to the left and right side portions 18, 20 and the first and second ends 26, 28 of the step portion 16, respectively.

In the subject embodiment, the first and second collars 22, 24 are generally cylindrical in shape. Each of the first and second collars 22, 24 defines a thru-hole 30, 32, respectively, with each of the thru-holes 30, 32 defining a central axis 34, 36, respectively. In the subject embodiment, the central axes 34, 36 are oriented so as to be generally perpendicular to the step portion 16 and the left and right side portions 18, 20. It will be understood, however that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the central axes 30, 32 being generally perpendicular to the step portion 16.

In the subject embodiment, the upper step assembly 12 also includes a first mounting bracket 38 and a second mounting bracket 40. The first and second mounting brackets 38, 40 are connectedly engaged to ends of the left and right side portions 18, 20, respectively. Each of the first and second mounting brackets 38, 40 includes a plurality of mounting holes 42. In the subject embodiment, and by way of example only, there are three mounting holes 42 disposed in each of the first and second mounting brackets 38, 40 that are sized to receive number fourteen (#14) screws.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the first and second mounting brackets 38, 40 are shown at an angle α with respect to the left and right side portions 18, 20, where the angle α is less than or equal to 90 degrees. In the subject embodiment, the transom area 8 is disposed at an angle β with respect to a horizontal plane 43 (shown as a dashed line in FIG. 3). In order to avoid interference between the lower step assembly 14 and the transom area 8, the angle α is greater than angle β. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present invention is not limited to the first and second mounting brackets 38, 40 being at the angle α that is less than or equal to 90 degrees or greater than angle β.

Referring to FIG. 2, the lower step assembly 14 includes a step 44, a left side 46, and a right side 48. In the subject embodiment, the left and right sides 46, 48 of the lower step assembly 14 are generally cylindrical in shape and extend outwardly from the step 44 in a generally perpendicular direction relative to a length L2 of the step 44 such that the left and right sides 46, 48 and the step 44 cooperate to define a generally U-shaped structure. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the left and right sides 46, 48 extending outwardly from the step 44 in a generally perpendicular direction or to defining a generally U-shaped structure.

In the subject embodiment, the lower step assembly 14 is oriented with respect to the upper step assembly 12 such that the left and right sides 46, 48 of the lower step assembly 14 are generally aligned with the central axes 34, 36 of the first and second collars 22, 24, respectively, of the upper step assembly 12. Each of the thru-holes 30, 32 of the first and second collars 22, 24 of the upper step assembly 12 have an inner dimension that is slightly larger than the outer dimension of the left and right sides 46, 48. The slightly larger inner dimensions of the thru-holes 30, 32 allow for the first and second collars 22, 24 of the upper step assembly 12 to be in sliding engagement with the left and right sides 46, 48 of the lower step assembly 14.

In the subject embodiment, and by way of example only, the upper and lower step assemblies 12, 14 are manufactured from marine grade 304 stainless steel. The outer surfaces of the stainless steel upper and lower step assemblies 12, 14 are polished. In order to protect the outer surfaces of the left and right sides 46, 48 of the lower step assembly 14 from scratches resulting from the sliding engagement of the first and second collars 22, 24 and the left and right sides 46, 48, respectively, left and right bushings 50, 52 are disposed in the thru-holes 30, 32 of the first and second collars 22, 24, respectively. In the subject embodiment, and by way of example only, the left and right bushings 50, 52 are made of a nylon material. As the thru-holes 30, 32 of the first and second collars 22, 24 have a slightly larger inner dimension than the outer dimension of the left and right sides 46, 48, the left and right bushings 50, 52 also reduce or eliminate rattling between the first and second collars 22, 24 and the left and right sides 46, 48, respectively, which may occur during operation of a boat on which the boarding ladder assembly 10 is installed. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the use of left and right bushings 50, 52.

Referring still to FIG. 2, the lower step assembly 14 of the boarding ladder assembly 10 further includes a left extension 54 and a right extension 56. As the left and right extensions 54, 56 in the subject embodiment are similar, only the right extension 56 will be described for ease of description purposes. In the subject embodiment, the right extension 56 is generally cylindrical and has an outer dimension that is generally similar to the outer dimension of the right side 48 of the lower step assembly 14. The right extension 56 includes a first end portion 58 and a second end portion 60. The first end portion 58 is pivotally engaged to a bifurcated end 62 of the right side 48 of the lower step assembly 14. In the subject embodiment, the pivotal engagement between the first end portion 58 of the right extension 56 and the bifurcated end 62 of the right side 48 is provided by a pin 64 that extends through the bifurcated end 62 of the right side 48 and through the first end portion 58 of the right extension 56.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 4, the right extension 56 pivots about the pin 64 between a folded position (shown in FIG. 2) and an extended position (shown in FIG. 4). In the folded position, the right extension 56 is oriented generally perpendicularly to the right side 48 of the lower step assembly 14. In the extended position, the right extension 58 is oriented so as to be generally coaxial with the right side 48.

In one embodiment, each of the bifurcated ends 62 of the left and right sides 46, 48 of the lower step assembly 14 includes a spring loaded indent ball that engages one of two indentations in the first end portions 58 of the left and right extensions 54, 56. The spring loaded indent balls function to retain the left and right extensions 54, 56 in one of two desired positions (i.e., the folded position and the extended position). For example, with respect to the right extension 56, the indent ball engages one indentation when the right extension 56 is in the folded position and engages the other indentation when the right extension 56 is in the extended position. As the indent ball is spring loaded, a pivotal force FP (shown in FIG. 4) applied to the right extension 56 will cause the ball to disengage from the indentation and allow the right extension 56 to pivot about the pin 64.

Referring now to FIG. 5, a retention member 66 selectively retains the lower step assembly 14 in a raised position (shown in FIGS. 2-6) with respect to the upper step assembly 12. In the subject embodiment, the retention member 66 is a dowel pin that is in selective connected engagement with an aperture 68 through the first collar 22 of the upper step assembly 12 and a hole 70 (shown only in FIG. 7) through the left side 46 of the lower step assembly 14. The aperture 68 is disposed in an upper portion 72 of the first collar 22 and is generally perpendicular to the central axis 34 of the first collar. The hole 70 in the left side 46 of the lower step assembly 14 is also generally perpendicular to the central axis 34 of the first collar 22. The hole 70 is oriented on the left side 46 of the lower step assembly 14 so as to be aligned with the aperture 68 when the lower step assembly 14 is in the raised position with respect to the upper step assembly 12. With the lower step assembly 14 in the raised position, the retention member 66 can be inserted through both the aperture 68 and the hole 70.

In the subject embodiment, the retention member 66 includes a ring 74 disposed through an end 76 of the retention member 66. The ring 74 serves as a location by which the retention member 66 can be grasped to disengage the retention member 66 from the upper and lower step assemblies 12, 14. In addition, the ring 74 serves as an attachment point for a cable 78 (shown schematically as a dashed line in FIGS. 5-7). A first end 80 of the cable 78 is wrapped around the ring 74 of the retention member 66 while a second end 82 is attached to the boarding ladder assembly 10. The cable 78 reduces the risk of losing the retention member 66 when the retention member 66 is disengaged from the upper and lower step assemblies 12, 14.

Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, with the retention member 66 removed the lower step assembly 14 can be lowered with respect to the upper step assembly 12. In the subject embodiment, the lower step assembly 14 is lowered by applying a downward force FL to the lower step assembly 14. With the left and right extensions 54, 56 in the extended position, the lower step assembly 14 can be lowered until the first and second collars 22, 24 abut a stop 84 disposed in the second end portions 60 of the left and right extensions 54, 56. In the subject embodiment, the stop 84 is a roll pin that is inserted in an opening 86 in the second end portion 60 of the left and right extensions 54, 56. It will be understood, however, that the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the use of the roll pin as the stop 84. In one embodiment, and by way of example only, the lower step assembly 14 can be lowered up to twelve inches from the upper step assembly 12. In another embodiment, and by way of example only, the lower step assembly 14 can be lowered ten and seven-eighths (10.875) inches from the upper step assembly 12.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-7, a method of lowering the boarding ladder assembly 10 will now be described. With the boarding ladder assembly 10 mounted to the hull 6 of the boat 2, a person in a body of water, such as a lake or river, desiring to board the boat can lower the boarding ladder assembly 10 such that the lower step assembly 14 is below the water surface. By lowering the lower step assembly 14 below the water surface, the person can more easily and naturally put their foot on the lower step assembly 14 and board the boat.

With the boarding ladder assembly 10 in a stowed position (i.e., the lower step assembly 14 in the raised position and the left and right extensions in the folded position as shown in FIG. 2), the left and right extensions 54, 56 are pivoted about the pins 64 from the folded position (shown in FIG. 2) to the extended position (shown in FIG. 5). The retention member 66 is then disengaged from the aperture 68 in the first collar 22 of the upper step assembly 12 and the hole 70 in the left side 46 of the lower step assembly 14. With the retention member 66 removed, the downward force FL is applied to the lower step assembly 14 to lower the lower step assembly 14 with respect to the upper step assembly 12. The lower step assembly 14 is lowered until the stops 74 on the left and right extensions 54, 56 abut the first and second collars 22, 24. With the lower step assembly 14 in the lowered position, the person steps onto the step 44 of the lower step assembly 14 then onto the step portion 16 of the upper step assembly 12 and into the boat. In order to reduce the risk of slipping, a step pad 88 is mounted onto the step portion 16 of the upper step assembly 12 and the step 44 of the lower step assembly 14. In the subject embodiment, the step pad 88 includes an upper surface 90 that is texturized to improve traction.

To return the boarding ladder assembly 10 to the stowed position, an upward force FR is applied to the lower step assembly 14 until the hole 70 in the left side 46 of the lower step assembly 14 is aligned with the aperture 68 in the first collar 22 of the upper step assembly 12. With the hole 70 and the aperture 68 aligned, the retention member 66 is inserted through the aperture 68 and the hole 70. As previously described, this retention member 66 retains the lower step assembly 14 in the raised position. A pivotal force FP is then applied to each of the left and right extensions 54, 56 to rotate the left and right extensions 54, 56 about the pins 64 from the extended position to the folded position.

Various modifications and alterations of this disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of this disclosure, and it should be understood that the inventive scope of this disclosure is not to be unduly limited to the illustrative embodiments set forth herein.