Title:
Swivel Tent Fitting
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tent frame including at least one pivotal coupling for connecting a plurality of structural members is provided. The tent frame includes a plurality of structural members connected together to form a frame for supporting a fabric shell. The tent frame includes at least one coupling for connecting four of the structural members to one another. The coupling includes a plurality of connector portions adapted to engage corresponding connector portions of the structural members. The coupling permits pivotal movement of at least one of the structural members relative to other structural members connected to that coupling to facilitate assembly and erection of the tent frame.



Inventors:
Jones, Matthew Hamilton (Endicott, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/846257
Publication Date:
03/05/2009
Filing Date:
08/28/2007
Assignee:
Johnson Outdoors Inc. (Racine, WI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/120.3, 135/158
International Classes:
E04H15/48
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWK, NOAH CHANDLER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REINHART BOERNER VAN DEUREN P.C. (ROCKFORD, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A coupling for connecting a plurality of tent frame structural members, comprising: first, second, third and fourth connector portions, each connector portion including a mating portion adapted to mate with a corresponding mating portion of a tent frame structural member; a hinge pivotally connecting the fourth connector portion to the first, second and third connector portions, the hinge being independent of any of the tent frame structural members and further including a pivot axis, the fourth connector portion pivoting within a first plane perpendicular to the pivot axis.

2. The coupling of claim 1, wherein the first, second and third connectors are fixed to one another such that the first, second and third connectors are prevented from moving relative to one another forming a rigid body.

3. The coupling of claim 2, wherein the first, second and third connectors are permanently fixed to one another.

4. The coupling of claim 1, wherein the mating portions of the first and second connector portions extend perpendicularly to one another, the mating portions of the second and third connector portions extend perpendicular to one another.

5. The coupling of claim 4, wherein the mating portions of the first and third connector portions extend within a second plane, the second plane being perpendicular to the first plane.

6. The coupling of claim 4, wherein the mating portions of the first and third connector portions extend within one of the first plane or a second plane that is parallel to the first plane.

7. The coupling of claim 4, wherein the mating portions of the first and third connector portions extend substantially coaxial.

8. The coupling of claim 4, wherein the mating portions of the first and third portions extend at an angle relative to each other of between about 90 and 150 degrees.

9. The coupling of claim 4, wherein the mating portions of the first, second, third and fourth connector portions are male mating portions.

10. The coupling of claim 9, wherein each male mating portion includes a pair of spaced apart parallel extending cylindrical portions.

11. The coupling of claim 1, wherein the mating portions of the first, second, third and fourth connector portions are female mating portions.

12. A tent frame assembly comprising: a plurality of structural members including first, second, third and fourth structural members, at least one end of each structural member including a mating portion; at least one coupling connecting the first, second, third and fourth structural members comprising: first, second, third and fourth connector portions, each connector portion including a mating portion adapted to mate with a corresponding mating portion of the first, second, third and fourth frame member, respectively; a hinge pivotally connecting the fourth connector portion to the first, second and third connector portions, the hinge being independent of the plurality of elongated frame members and further including a pivot axis, the fourth connector portion pivoting relative to the first, second and third connector portions within a first plane perpendicular to the pivot axis.

13. The assembly of claim 12, wherein the first and second connector portions are positioned in a substantially back-to-back relation such that in an assembled state the first and second structural members are positioned within a second plane and generally extend away from each other.

14. The frame of claim 13, wherein the first plane is orthogonal to the second plane, the first plane being at least one of inclusive of or parallel to the third structural member that is connected to the third connector portion.

15. The frame of claim 13, wherein the first and second structural members extend away from one another at an angle between about 90 and 150 degrees within the second plane.

16. The frame of claim 14, wherein the fourth structural member is pivotable via the hinge between a first position wherein a surface of the fourth structural member is positioned substantially within the second plane and a second position wherein the fourth structural member extends at an angle of approximately forty-five degrees to the second plane.

17. The frame of claim 12, wherein the first, second and third connector portions are fixed to one another such that the first, second and third connectors are prevented from moving relative to one another forming a rigid body.

18. The frame of claim 12, wherein the mating portions of the connector portions are male and the mating portions of the structural members are female, each female portion slidingly receiving a male portion of a structural member in an assembled state.

19. The frame of claim 18, wherein each female portion is formed by a pair of cylindrical pockets separated by a common wall, and each male portion includes a pair of spaced apart parallel-extending cylindrical portions sized to be slidingly received in the female portions.

20. The frame of claim 12, wherein the fourth structural member further includes a boot coupled to an end opposite an end that couples to the fourth connector portion.

21. The frame of claim 12, further comprising a plurality of couplings, each coupling connecting one end of four structural members proximate one another.

22. The frame of claim 12, wherein the first, second, and fourth connector portions are aligned such that in an assembled and erect state a surface of the first, second and fourth structural members is co-planar.

23. The frame of claim 22, wherein the co-planar surfaces of the first, second and fourth structural members are co-planar in the first plane.

24. The frame of claim 22, wherein the co-planar surfaces of the first, second and fourth structural members are co-planar in a second plane perpendicular to the first plane.

25. (canceled)

26. A method of assembling a tent frame comprising: connecting first, second, third and fourth structural members to a coupling; pivoting the fourth structural member through a hinge of the coupling to a vertical position; and wherein the first, second and third structural members are lifted from a first position proximate the ground to a second position above the ground as the fourth structural member is pivoted.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to tent frames and, more particularly, to fittings for tent frames.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A tent uses a fabric shell to define a sheltered useable space. Some tents can be extremely large having gabled peaks greater than 20 feet from the ground. To support the fabric shell, the tent incorporates a tent frame, which can be internal or external to the useable space defined by the fabric shell. The individual structural members forming the frame are configured to support the weight of the fabric shell, the weight of other support structural members and, typically, loading that may be provided by exterior environmental conditions such as snow loads, wind loads, and rain loads.

Because a tent can be very large, the frame is typically able to be assembled and disassembled to facilitate easier transportation. Once at the desired location, the tent may be assembled onsite. The frame typically uses, among other things, a plurality of couplings that rigidly connect adjacent structural members to one another. Unfortunately, the use of standard couplings can be problematic as they can inhibit assembly of the frame. Particularly, rigid couplings prevent pivoting or movement of the structural members relative to one another. As such, connection of vertical structural members requires the roof section of the frame to be lifted off of the ground to a height substantially equal to, if not greater than, the length of the vertical structural members. To lift the roof sections, individuals on ladders or gin poles having pulley systems have been used in the past to lift the structural members. However, requiring assemblers to be on ladders or the use of gin poles present several problems.

First, it may be beneficial, if not required due to location constraints, to have one or more of the walls of the tent positioned very close to a vertical obstruction, such as a vertical wall of another tent or another building. However, by being positioned close to the obstruction, assembly of the frame and tent can be difficult. More particularly, there may be insufficient room to position a ladder or gin pole to lift the roof section while connecting vertical structural members.

Additionally, even when the tent is not being assembled proximate a wall and a gin pole can be used to elevate the roof sections prior to attaching the vertical support members, connecting the end of the vertical support members that connect proximate the peak can be difficult because the connection is being made at significant heights above the ground. This can require large ladders. Alternatively, a person standing on the ground may try to manipulate a long awkward pole having an end 15-20 feet above the ground to try to engage the end with an elevated coupling, a difficult task at best.

There exists, therefore, a need in the art for a tent frame and structural member coupling that permits easier assembly and connection of vertical structural members. There also exists a need for a tent frame that can be more easily assembled in tight quarters proximate to obstructions. The invention provides such a tent frame and coupling. These and other advantages of the invention, as well as additional inventive features, will be apparent from the description of the invention provided herein.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide a new and improved tent frame that overcomes the above-described and other problems existing in the art. More particularly, embodiments of the present invention provide a new and improved tent frame that provides easier and simpler assembly. Still more particularly, embodiments of the present invention provide a new and improved tent frame that provides for assembly or interconnection of structural members forming the roof of the tent frame proximate the ground. Even more particularly, embodiments of the present invention provide a new and improved tent frame that allows vertical support members to be connected to coupled to other support members while extending at an angle and then to be pivoted, while being connected to the other members, to a vertical orientation. Other embodiments of the invention provide couplings that facilitate assembly of such embodiments of new and improved tent frames.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a tent frame that provides a plurality of structural members coupled together by a coupling. Preferably, the coupling includes at least four connector portions for connecting to ends of the structural members. Further, the coupling preferably includes a hinge to permit one of the connector portions to pivot relative to the other connector portions. The hinge and connector portions of the coupling are formed independent of the structural members of the tent.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a coupling for connecting a plurality of tent frame structural members. The coupling includes at least four connector portions adapted to mate with mating portions of structural members of a tent frame. The coupling includes a hinge pivotally connecting one of the connector portions to the other connector portions. Preferably, the connector portions and hinge are formed independent of any structural members, and the tent frame need not be assembled to form any parts of the coupling. In a preferred embodiment, three of the four connectors are formed in an integral body and cannot move relative to one another when the connector is in an assembled state.

Other embodiments of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 illustrates a tent frame in its preferred shape having a gabled roof and being formed from a plurality of structural members;

FIG. 2 a top view of the tent frame of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a gable coupling used for connecting a plurality of the structural members forming the tent frame of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of an end of a gable member of the tent frame of FIG. 1 illustrating the mating connection portion of the gable member that mates with embodiments of couplings according to the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a top view of the gable coupling of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is cross-section of the gable fitting of FIG. 5 about line 6-6 having a gable member, peak member, and roof member connected to the gable fitting;

FIGS. 7-9 are partial profile illustrations of a gable member, peak member, roof member coupled together by a gable member illustrating the progression of the connected structural members as the roof is raised while assembling the tent frame; and

FIG. 10 illustrates a partial elevation of a gabled end wall of the tent frame of FIG. 1; and

FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate additional couplings according to embodiments of the present invention for interconnecting multiple structural members of the tent frame of FIG. 1.

While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference now to FIGS. 1 and 2, a tent frame 10 for supporting a fabric shell (not shown) of a tent is illustrated. Embodiments of the tent frame 10 according to the teachings of the present invention can be used as an internal skeleton for internally supporting the fabric shell. Alternatively, embodiments of the tent frame 10, in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, can be used to externally support a fabric shell. The tent frame 10 generally defines a pair of opposed gabled end walls 14, 15 a pair of opposed sidewalls 16, 17 and a pitched roof having angled sides 18, 19. The tent frame 10 is comprised of a plurality of interconnected structural members, including sidewall members 22, gable members 24, peak members 26, roof members 28 and tie members 30.

The sidewall members 22 form the vertical members of the sidewalls 16, 17 of the tent frame 10. By forming part of the sidewalls 16, 17, the sidewall members 22 provide vertical support for the roof sides 18, 19. More particularly, each sidewall member 22 supports and is connected to a corresponding roof member 28, such as at corner coupling 34. When the fabric shell (not shown) is secured to the tent frame 10, the sidewall members 22 also provide lateral support for the fabric shell. The sidewall members 22 may rest directly on the surface of the ground 32, be staked into the ground 32, or rest on structural members (not shown) connecting bottom ends of adjacent sidewall members 22.

The roof members 28 provide support for the portion of the fabric shell that forms roof sides 18, 19. Typically, each roof member 28 extends at an obtuse angle θ (see also FIG. 10) relative to its corresponding sidewall member 22 to provide the pitch of its respective roof side. Preferably, this angle θ is between about one-hundred ten degrees (correlating to a roof pitch of about twenty degrees) and one-hundred fifty degrees (correlating to a roof pitch of about sixty degrees), however, other angles may be incorporated. Additionally, the pitch of each of the opposed roof sides 18, 19 is typically the same, however, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the opposed roof sides 18, 19 can have different pitches.

Individual pairs of the roof members 28 forming portions of the opposed roof sides 18, 19 converge proximate a peak 36 of the tent frame 10 and support one end of a peak member 26. The other end of the peak member 26 is supported by another pair of converging roof members 28. A gable coupling 40 connects the pair of converging roof members 28 that form part of a gabled end wall 14, 15 with a peak member 26 as well as a gable member 24.

A gable member 24 extends vertically between the ground 32 and the peak 36 of the tent frame 10 providing vertical support for the peak 36. The gable members 24 is laterally interposed between a pair of sidewall members 22, and corresponding roof members 28. In the illustrated embodiment, gable members 24 are only included at the opposed end walls 14, 15. Individual gable members 24 are interposed between the sidewall members 22 and roof members 28 that form the corners of the tent frame 10 where the end walls 14, 15 intersect sidewalls 16, 17. However, additional embodiments of the tent frame 10 may include gable members interposed between each converging pair of roof members 28.

Adding further stability to the tent frame 10, tie members 30 are interposed between adjacent vertical members. The tie members 40 may extend horizontally between a pair of adjacent sidewall members 22 forming a portion of sidewall 16 or between a gable member 24 and sidewall member 22 forming a portion of an end wall 14, 15. The tie members 30 of the end walls 14, 15 are interposed between corner coupling 34 and the gable member 24.

The improved tent frame 10 provides pivoting connections between adjacent structural members to make assembly and erection of the tent frame 10 simpler and easier. By allowing selective structural members to pivot, connection of the structural members during assembly can be performed closer to the ground as the vertical member may be connected, oriented at an angle relative to vertical, and then pivoted to a vertical orientation. Additionally, the ability of the structural members to pivot allows easier assembly and erection of the frame proximate obstructions such as other tents or buildings, as will be more fully described below.

FIG. 3 illustrates an improved gable coupling 40 for connecting structural members while permitting at least one structural member to pivot relative to the other structural members. The gable coupling 40 connects structural members forming one of the opposed end walls 14, 15 at the peak 36. More particularly, the gable coupling 40 connects two roof members 28, a gable member 24 and a peak member 26, such as at the peak of sidewall 14. (See FIG. 1 or FIG. 10)

The gable coupling 40 includes a plurality of connector portions, namely gable member connector portion 44, a peak member connector portion 46 and a pair of roof member connector portions 48, 49. The connector portions 44, 46, 48, 49 are adapted to releasably mate with corresponding connector ends of the respective structural members (see FIG. 4 illustrating a representative connector end 60 of a gable member 24) such that the tent frame 10 can be assembled and disassembled. The configuration of the gable coupling 40 improves assembly and erection of the tent frame 10, more particularly, assembly and erection proximate to vertical obstructions such as adjacent buildings or tents.

In the illustrated embodiment, connector portions 46, 48, 49 are rigidly connected to one another to form an integral body. The gable member connector portion 44 is pivotally connected to the integral body by pivot hinge 50. Thus, connector portions 46, 48, 49 have fixed positions relative to one another, while the gable member connector portion 44 can pivot and alter its position relative to the rest of the gable coupling 40 (i.e. connector portions 46, 48, 49 and the structure interconnecting those connector portions 46, 48, 49). When the tent frame 10 is assembled and erect, the pivot hinge 50 and gable member connector portion 44 are generally positioned below the other connector portions 46, 48, 49.

It should be noted that the term “connected” as used in the present application is broad enough such that two “connected” components do not need to be directly in contact with each other but can be indirectly coupled via intervening structure. Further, an integral body, does not need to be formed from a unitary piece, but can be formed by a plurality of pieces connected together such as by welds, bolts, screws, etc. Additionally, when two components are in fixed positions relative to another, this does not mean that the components are permanently fixed, but two components can be in fixed positions relative to one another such as by being bolted together such that they do not move relative to one another when fully assembled.

In the illustrated embodiment, each of the connector portions 44, 46, 48, 49 includes a mating portion, as illustrated, formed by a pair of cylindrical portions 54. The cylindrical portions 54 of a pair extend substantially parallel to each other and are connected to each other via a base portion 56. The cylindrical portions 54 are sized to be received in the connector end of a structural member.

FIG. 4 illustrates a representative connector end 60 of a gable member 24 for reference. The connector end 60 is illustrative of connector ends for the other structural members as well. The connector end 60 includes similarly shaped spaced apart cylindrical cavities 62 for slidingly receiving the cylindrical portions 54. As illustrated, the cylindrical cavities 62 are separated by wall 63. While the cylindrical cavities 62 are illustrated as being separated by wall 63, alternative embodiments and configurations of the connector end 60 may not include wall 63 such that the pair of cylindrical cavities merge generally forming a single cavity having the general outer peripheral shape sized to receive the cylindrical portions of the connectors. The cylindrical cavities 62 may extend the entire length of the gable member 24 or may only extend a sufficient depth to adequately receive the cylindrical portions 54. Preferably the outside diameter of the cylindrical portions 54 is closely sized to the inside diameter of the cylindrical cavities 62 to limit relative movement between an inserted connector portion 44 and the gable member 24.

With reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, each of the connector portions 44, 46, 48, 49 are illustrated as being a male component that inserts into a female connector end of a structural member. However, other mating configurations could be incorporated to practice the present invention. For example, the structural members could incorporate the male cylindrical portions while the connector portions form the corresponding female cylindrical cavities. Alternatively, each connector portion could be formed by individual sleeves sized to receive an end of a structural member. Further, other shapes such as rectangles, triangles, other polygons, double-D or configurations of the connectors and mating portion of the structural members may be used in other embodiments.

Referring to FIG. 3, the gable coupling 40 further includes a central portion 64. The base portions 56 of connector portions 46, 48, 49 are rigidly fixed to the central portion 64 thereby rigidly fixing the connector portions 46, 48, 49 to one another. Central portion 64 is in the form of a cruciform and the individual base portions 56 are interposed between adjacent legs of the cruciform. However, the central portion 64 could take on other shapes, such as, for example, being rectangular. Additionally, the central portion 64 may be entirely omitted such as, for example, if the base portions 56 of connector portions 46, 48, 49 are directly connected to one another. In the embodiment where two connector portions, such as connector portions 48, 49 are substantially aligned with one another in a back-to-back relation, the base portions 56 of the respective connector portions 48, 49 could be formed from a unitary piece. The base portions 56 of connector portions 46, 48, 49 may be rigidly connected to one another by welding, adhesive bonding, ultrasonic bonding, bolting, etc. or formed from a unitary piece of material.

In the illustrated embodiment, the base portion 56 of peak member connector portion 46 further forms part of the pivot hinge 50. A portion 65 of the base portion 56 of the gable member connector portion 44 forms a clevis in which a portion 67 of the base portion 56 of peak member connector portion 46 inserts. A hinge pin 66 passes through aligned apertures (not shown) in the mating base portions 56 to connect the two components. The hinge pin 66 allows the gable member connector portion 44 to pivot relative to the other connector portions 46, 48, 49. The hinge pin 66 may be in the form of a bolt or other similar device to pivotally connect the components. Alternative pivotal connections, other than the clevis configuration, may be used to interconnect the gable member connector portion 44 to the rest of the gable coupling 40.

It will be noted that the parts of the gable coupling 40 in an embodiment are formed entirely independent of the structural members of the tent frame 10. As such, the connector portions 44, 46, 48, 49 and hinge 50 are not formed by portions of the structural members. This allows individual structural members to be easily replaced or interchanged and for a plurality of similarly shaped structural members to be easily manufactured.

FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of gable coupling 40. FIGS. 3 and 5 illustrate the two roof member connector portions 48, 49 positioned in a substantially back-to-back relation on opposed sides of central portion 64. In this position, the cylindrical portions 54 of the opposed roof member connector portions 48, 49 extend away from each other generally parallel to axes 68, 69, respectively. FIG. 5 illustrates, in a preferred embodiment, that the two roof member connector portions 48, 49 are substantially aligned, extend away from one another and are substantially co-planer, such as in a vertical plane that aligns with axes 68 and 69 and extends perpendicular out of the page. With primary reference to FIG. 3, it will be understood that axes 68, 69 extend away from one another at an angle forming a v-shape. This angle correlates with the pitch of the roof sides 18, 19. The peak member connector portion 46 extends substantially perpendicular to the two roof member connector portions 48, 49.

With reference to FIGS. 5 and 6, in a preferred embodiment, the roof member connector portions 48, 49 are aligned with the gable member connector portion 44 such that when the tent frame 10 is fully assembled and erect, the outermost portion of the surfaces 72, 70 of the structural members 24, 28, respectively, connected to those connector portions 44, 48, 49 would be substantially co-planar in a vertical plane, illustrated by dashed line 74 (See also FIGS. 7-9).

In the illustrated embodiment, the gable member connector 44 and the peak member connector 46 are substantially co-planer. As such, a vertical plane, illustrated by dashed line 76 passing generally through the center of the two connectors 44, 46, generally includes the two connectors 44, 46. Vertical plane 76 is substantially perpendicular to vertical plane 74. In this embodiment, the peak member connector 46 extends substantially perpendicular to the two roof member connector 48, 49.

It will be understood with reference to FIGS. 3 and 6 that pivot hinge 50 has its axis of rotation 80 aligned substantially parallel to vertical plane 74 and orthogonal to vertical plane 76. As such, the gable member connector 44 is permitted to pivot within plane 76. Preferred embodiments of the gable coupling 40 permit the gable member connector 44, and consequently an attached gable member 24, to pivot through an angle α of approximately forty five degrees out of plane 74 towards the peak member connector 46 (See FIG. 6). However, alternative embodiments may have alternative pivotal ranges depending on the location of the pivot hinge 50, the size of the connector portions, and size of attached structural members. Additionally, the pivot hinge 50 may be configured such that the axis of rotation is substantially perpendicular to plane 74 such that the gable member connector 44 pivots within or parallel to plane 74 and perpendicular to plane 76.

With reference to FIGS. 7 to 9, the gable coupling 40 assists assembly and erection of the tent frame, particularly, proximate a wall 92 or other structure. In the past, with rigid couplings, the roof section of the frame would have to be lifted high enough that a substantially vertical gable member could be positioned between the coupling and the ground on which the tent was positioned. Typically, this was done using a gin pole or other lifting mechanism to hold the portions of the tent frame that formed the roof above the ground 32. However, as indicated previously, next to a wall 92 there is limited room for setting up a gin pole or for positioning other lifting structure.

However, with a gable coupling 40 according to the teachings of the present invention, the roof section does not need to be lifted to its ultimate elevated position to connect the gable member 24 to the rest of the structural members (i.e. peak member 26 and roof members 28). Using the gable coupling 40, the gable member connector 44 can be pivoted so that the gable member 24 can be connected to the peak member 26 and roof members 28 proximate the ground 32. As such, the gable member 24 is connected to the gable coupling 40 while at an angle α relative to its ultimate vertical position. Typically, the angle α is approximately forty-five degrees. However, this angle α can be less or greater depending on the tent configuration. Once the peak member 26, gable member 24, and two roof members 28 are connected together by the gable coupling 40, the gable member 24 can be pivoted via the pivot hinge 50 to the upright position.

The progression of the gable member 24 from an initial position to a fully erect position is illustrated in FIGS. 7 to 9. FIG. 7 illustrates the gable member 24 after it has been connected to the gable coupling 40, prior to beginning pivoting towards an upright/erect positioning. FIG. 8 is an intermediate position. In this position, the gable member 24 has been pivoted partially towards its ultimate upright position. As the gable member is pivoted to the vertical/upright position, angle α decreases while the height, H, of the roof members (such as peak member 26 and roof members 28) above the ground 32 increases. FIG. 9 illustrates the gable member 24 in its fully upright position. After the gable member 24 is in the upright position, the sidewall members 22 can be attached to the ends of the roof members 24 using corner couplings 34, as illustrated in FIG. 10.

Typically, the gable member 24 slides across the ground surface 32 as it is pivoted to the upright position. As such, the gable member 24 includes a boot 90 connected to the end of the gable member 24 (See FIGS. 7-9). To prevent the boot 90 from digging into the ground 32, it includes an upturned end 94. The boot 90 may be welded, bolted or otherwise attached to the bottom of the gable member 24. Alternatively, the boot 90 could include a connector portion (not shown) similar to connector portions 44-49 such that it can be removably attached to the end of the gable member 24. In an alternative embodiment, the boot 90 could include a wheel to allow the boot 90 to roll across the ground 32 rather than slide.

While it is beneficial to have at least the gable coupling 40 include a pivotal connector portion, i.e. connector portion 44, other fittings of the tent frame 10 can incorporate a pivotal connector portion. As illustrated in FIG. 11, corner coupling 34 include a roof member connector portion 94, a sidewall support member connector portion 96, and two tie member connector portions 98, 99. These connector portions 94, 96, 98, 99 are substantially similar to those of the gable coupling 40 explained previously. Connector portions 94, 96, 98 are rigidly connected to one another forming a rigid body. Tie member connector portion 99 is pivotally connected to the rest of the corner coupling 34 by pivot hinge 100. Tie member connector portion 98 extends substantially perpendicular to, both, the roof member connector portion 94 which extends generally along axis 102 and the sidewall member connector portion 96 which extends along axis 104. In a preferred embodiment, the roof member connector portion 94, sidewall member connector portion 96 and tie member connector portion 99 are substantially co-planar, while tie member connector portion 98 extends substantially perpendicular to that plane (not shown).

With further reference to FIG. 10, the pivot hinge 100 facilitates horizontally positioning the tie member 30, which forms part of end wall 14, between the corner coupling 34 and the vertical gable member 24. The hinge 100 permits the tie member connector 99 to pivot between an angle β. More particularly, the tie member connector 99 can pivot vertically above a horizontal position such that the end of the tie member 30, which includes hook connector 106, can be lifted vertically above hoop connector 108 of the gable member 24 and then lowered such that the hook connector 106 engages hoop connector 108.

As illustrated in FIG. 10, the gable member 24 is interposed between two tie members 30. The tie members 30 provide lateral support for the gable member 24. The incorporation of the corner coupling 34 having pivot hinge 100 facilitates easily installing each tie member 30 between the corner coupling 34 and the gable member 24.

A sidewall coupling 112 is illustrated in FIG. 12. The sidewall coupling 112 is similar to the gable coupling 40 of FIG. 3. The sidewall coupling 112 includes two tie member connector portions 114, 116, a roof member connector portion 118 and a sidewall support member connector portion 120. The two tie member connector portions 114, 116 and the roof member connector portion 118 are rigidly connected to one another. Pivot hinge 122 pivotally connects the sidewall member connector portion 120 to the other connector portions 114, 116, 118.

With further reference to FIG. 1, the sidewall coupling 112, connects a roof member 28, two horizontal tie members 30 and a vertical sidewall member 22. As such, the two tie member connector portions 114, 116 are positioned in substantially back-to-back relation and extend outward substantially co-axial. As such, the two tie members 30 connected on opposite sides of the sidewall coupling 112 are substantially aligned end-to-end.

With primary reference to FIG. 1, the tent frame 10 may include a plurality of couplings 34, 40, 112 that allow individual structural members to pivot. In particular, some frames may include all pivotal couplings while other tent frames may include pivotal couplings in only a selected few locations.

All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.