Title:
ORNAMENTAL FENCING SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR ASSEMBLING THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fence has at least one fence section which extends between a pair of posts. Each of the fence section has an upper and lower horizontal rail extending between the posts. A plurality of channels extends transversally through the rails. Pickets are vertically inserted through the channels of the upper and lower rails, each picket having its top extremity projecting upwardly of the upper rail. Picket caps are each associated with a corresponding one of the pickets. Each picket cap has a body portion rigidly affixed to the top extremity of its corresponding picket, the picket also having a first arm and a second arm projecting on opposite sides of the body portion and extending along the upper rail of the fence section. The first arm of each picket cap is attached to the second arm of the picket cap affixed to an adjacent picket with attaching means.



Inventors:
Cantatore, Robert (Lasalle, CA)
Application Number:
12/327640
Publication Date:
06/04/2009
Filing Date:
12/03/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
256/59
International Classes:
E04H17/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030168649Post capSeptember, 2003Weese
20050127345PLASTIC BUILDING MATERIAL COMPONENTSJune, 2005Giacchino
20080217596SECURE WALL FENCING STRUCTURESeptember, 2008Dolan
20080224114PROTECTING FENCE AND ITS POSITIONING MEMBERSeptember, 2008Cheng
20090194754Gate Post StiffenerAugust, 2009Timothy
20080217599Postall easy install posts and fencesSeptember, 2008Scruggs
20040217339Plastic fencing systemNovember, 2004Stone
20060145131Guardrail system and associated methodsJuly, 2006Purvis
20040217341Jack fenceNovember, 2004Gumb
20090140227ORNAMENTAL FENCING SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR ASSEMBLING THE SAMEJune, 2009Cantatore
20100038611WIRE TERMINATION DEVICEFebruary, 2010Lambourn et al.



Primary Examiner:
AMIRI, NAHID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BakerHostetler (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A fence having at least one fence section extending between a pair of posts, each of said at least one fence section comprising: an upper horizontal rail and a lower horizontal rail extending between said posts and connected thereto, a plurality of channels extending transversally through said rails; a plurality of pickets vertically inserted through the channels of the upper and lower rails, each picket having a top extremity projecting upwardly of the upper rail; a plurality of picket caps each associated with a corresponding one of said pickets, each picket cap having a body portion rigidly affixed to the top extremity of the corresponding one of the pickets, a first arm and a second arm projecting on opposite sides of the body portion and extending along said upper rail; attaching means for attaching the first arm of each picket cap to the second arm of one of said picket caps affixed to an adjacent one of said pickets.

2. A fence according to claim 1, wherein the body portion of each of the picket caps comprises a cavity therein, the top extremity of the corresponding picket being snugly fitted into said cavity.

3. A fence according to claim 2, further comprising an adhesive retaining the top extremity of the corresponding picket within said cavity.

4. A fence according to claim 1, wherein, for each one of said picket caps: the first and second arms define flat flanges; a distal end of the flange of the first arm is folded into a riser section and a step section; and a distal end of the flange of the second arm is unfolded; each of said distal ends being provided with a hole; the step section of the distal end of the first arm overlapping the distal end of the second arm of the picket cap affixed to the adjacent one of said pickets, the hole of the distal end of the first arm being directly aligned with the hole of the distal end of the second arm of the picket cap of the adjacent picket.

5. A fence according to claim 4, wherein, for each of said picket caps, the hole in the distal end of each arm is threaded, and wherein the attaching means comprise a screw inserted through the threaded hole of the distal end of the first arm of said one picket cap and through the aligned threaded hole of the distal end of the second arm of said picket cap of the adjacent picket.

6. A fence according the claim 1, wherein for each one of said picket caps: distal ends of the first and second arms of said one picket cap are upwardly curved above said upper rail, each of said distal ends being provided with a ring having an axis substantially orthogonal to the upper rail and to the picket associated with said one picket cap, the axis of the ring of the first arm of said one picket cap corresponding to the axis of a complementary ring of the second arm of the picket cap of the adjacent picket; and the attaching means comprises a pin fitted through the ring of the first arm of said one picket cap and through the complementary ring of the second arm of said picket cap of the adjacent picket.

7. A fence according to claim 1, further comprising a plurality of annular gaskets, each gasket being placed around a top extremity of a corresponding one of the pickets, and resting over the channel of the upper rail into which said corresponding one picket is inserted.

8. A fence according to claim 1, wherein the rails, the pickets and the picket caps are made of metal.

9. A fence according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second arm is provided with an ornamental element positioned to hide from view the attaching means.

10. A fence according to claim 2, wherein the body portion of each of the picket caps further comprises an ornamental section.

11. A fence according to claim 1, wherein the rails and the pickets have an elongated hollow shape.

12. A fence according to claim 1, wherein the first and second arms of each of the picket caps rest over said upper rail.

13. A kit for use in a fence having at least one fence section extending between a pair of posts, each of said at least one fence section having an upper horizontal rail and a lower horizontal rail extending between said posts and connected thereto, a plurality of channels extending transversally through said rails; a plurality of pickets vertically inserted through the channels of the upper and lower rails, each picket having a top extremity projecting upwardly of the upper rail, the kit comprising: a plurality of picket caps, each picket cap having a body portion rigidly affixable to the top extremity of a corresponding one of the pickets, a first arm and a second arm projecting on opposite sides of the body portion; attaching means for attaching together the respective first arm and second arm of pairs of said picket caps when affixed to adjacent ones of said pickets.

14. A kit according to claim 13, wherein for each of said picket caps: the first and second arms define flat flanges; a distal end of the flange of the first arm is folded into a riser section and a step section; and a distal end of the flange of the second arm is unfolded; and each of said distal ends being provided with a hole pierced at a predetermined distance from an edge of said distal ends.

15. A kit according to claim 13, the kit further comprising a plurality of said upper horizontal and lower horizontal rails.

16. A kit according to claim 15, the kit further comprising a plurality of said pickets.

17. A kit according to claim 16, wherein each of the plurality of picket caps are rigidly pre-affixed to a corresponding one of the plurality of the pickets.

18. A method for building a fence section, said method comprising the steps of: a) erecting and fixing a pair of posts to a rigid surface; b) connecting ends of an upper horizontal rail and a lower horizontal rail to each one of the pair of posts, the rails extending substantially orthogonally to the posts and such that the channels of the upper rail are aligned with the channels of the lower rail; c) affixing each one of a plurality of picket caps to a top end of a corresponding one of a plurality of pickets, each picket cap having a body portion rigidly affixable to the top extremity of the corresponding one of the pickets, each picket cap further having a first arm and a second arm of each of said picket caps projecting on opposite sides of the body portion; d) inserting each one of the pickets of step c) into a corresponding pair of channels of the rails such that the top extremity of each of the pickets projects upwardly of the upper rail and such that the first and second arms of each of the picket caps extend along said upper rail; and e) attaching the first arm of each picket cap to the second arm of one of said picket caps affixed to an adjacent one of said pickets with attaching means.

Description:

PRIORITY

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/996,752 filed Dec. 4, 2007, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to fences, and more particularly relates to ornamental fences.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Ornamental fences are often used as protective enclosures around swimming pools and gardens or for delimiting backyards and entryways. They are generally made of galvanized steel and include vertical posts, horizontal rails, pickets and decorative parts.

A problem with existing ornamental fences is that they are made of welded pre-assembled sections which are difficult to transport and store due to their size, typically 5 feet×8 feet. In addition, shipping fees for sending pre-assembled sections are also prohibitive due to their size, limiting the market of ornamental fences to areas close to where the sections are manufactured. Moreover, the assembly process of ornamental fences requires welding skills and specialized tools, making it difficult for regular home-owners to install the fences by themselves. Ornamental fence buyers must typically rely on skilled fence installers for assembling the fences, contributing to the high cost of existing fencing systems.

In order to overcome some of the above mentioned problems, non-welded fencing systems have been designed. However, such prior art fencing systems require many small parts to be assembled and screwed. Another disadvantage of proposed fencing systems that do not require pickets to be welded to horizontal rails is that their assembly parts cannot be used with existing pickets devised for welded fencing systems. Manufacturers must then design, manufacture and hold in stock different types of pickets for different types of fences, rather than using type of pickets.

The prior art in the field includes are U.S. Pat. No. 7,025,335 (ZHU); U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,764 (CONNER); U.S. Pat. No. 4,991,823 (STANISH); U.S. Pat. No. 6,752,386 (BUNDY); U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,921 (NEYLON); U.S. 2005/0045863 (MACKAY); U.S. 2005/0285091 (KO); U.S. 2006/0001015 (FORBIS et al.); U.S. 2007/0080332 (ALLEN); U.S. 2008/0179581 (MULGREW) and U.S. 2008/0250749 (WELDON et al.).

U.S. Pat. No. 7,025,355 (ZHU) discloses a modular picket fence. In the first embodiment described, the pickets are provided with locking slotted apertures and locking clips inserted in said apertures, the clips engaging against a surface of the rails of the fence, hence retaining the pickets in the rails. In the other embodiment described, a spring clip is inserted in a transverse aperture of the picket, the spring clip retaining the picket in the rails of the fence. While this fence system offers a modular solution, several parts need to be assembled, and the overall assembly process requires a lot of steps. Pickets traditionally used in welded fence system can not be used without or with few modifications since apertures must be made in the pickets. The pickets are also affixed to both rails of the fence, for ensuring proper rigidity and stability to the fence.

U.S. 2005/0045863 (MACKEY) discloses a modular metal fence panel assembly wherein the pickets are affixed to inverted U-shape rails with elongated-locking bars inserted in the rails. The locking bars are provided with regularly spaced tabs which engage in recesses made in the pickets. Collars are inserted on the top ends of the pickets for positioning the picket recesses in register with the locking bar tabs. While this invention involves fewer parts than ZHU, pickets traditionally used in welded metal fence cannot be used without modifications.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a fence having at least one fence section which extends between a pair of posts. Each of the fence section includes an upper horizontal rail and a lower horizontal rail extending between the posts and connected to them. A plurality of channels extends transversally through the rails. A plurality of pickets are vertically inserted through the channels of the upper and lower rails, each picket having its top extremity projecting upwardly of the upper rail. A plurality of picket caps are each associated with a corresponding one of the pickets. Each picket cap has a body portion rigidly affixed to the top extremity of its corresponding picket, the picket also having a first arm and a second arm projecting on opposite sides of the body portion and extending along the upper rail of the fence section. The first arm of each picket cap is attached to the second arm of the picket cap affixed to an adjacent picket with attaching means.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a kit for use in a fence as described above, the kit including a plurality of picket caps and attaching means. Each picket cap has a body portion rigidly affixable to a top extremity of a corresponding picket, a first arm and a second arm projecting on opposite sides of the body portion. The attaching means are for attaching together the respective first arm and second arm of pairs of picket caps when affixed to adjacent pickets.

In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a method for building a fence section. The method includes the steps of:

    • a) erecting and fixing a pair of posts to a rigid surface;
    • b) connecting ends of an upper horizontal rail and a lower horizontal rail to each one of the pair of posts, the rails extending substantially orthogonally to the posts and such that the channels of the upper rail are aligned with the channels of the lower rail;
    • c) affixing each of a plurality of picket caps to a top end of a corresponding one of a plurality of pickets. Each picket cap has a body portion rigidly affixable to the top extremity of the corresponding picket, each picket cap further having a first arm and a second arm projecting on opposite sides of the body portion;
    • d) inserting each one of the pickets of step c) into a corresponding pair of channels of the rails such that the top extremity of each of the pickets projects upwardly of the upper rail and such that the first and second arms of each of the picket caps extend along said upper rail; and
    • e) attaching the first arm of each picket cap to the second arm of one of the picket caps affixed to an adjacent one of the pickets with attaching means.

Further advantages and features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reading of the following non-restrictive description of preferred embodiments thereof, given for the purpose of exemplification only, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a front view of a fence according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of part of a section of an upper horizontal rail, a picket being inserted in one channel of the rail, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a picket cap, according to a first embodiment of the picket cap of the present invention. FIGS. 3A and 3B are respectively a first and a second side view of the cap of FIG. 3C, and FIG. 3C and 3D are respectively a bottom and a top view of the cap.

FIG. 4 is a front view showing the cap of FIG. 3 having both arms attached to similar adjacent picket caps.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a picket cap, according to a second preferred embodiment of the picket cap of the present invention. FIGS. 5A and 5B are respectively a first and a second side view of the cap of FIG. 5, and FIG. 5C and 5D are respectively a bottom and a top view of the cap.

FIG. 6 is a front view showing the cap of FIG. 5 having both arms attached to similar adjacent picket caps.

While the invention will be described in conjunction with example embodiments, it will be understood that it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to such embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as may be included as defined by the present description.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The Ornamental Fence

The present invention will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which like numerals refer to like elements throughout.

Referring to FIG. 1, a fence 10 is shown in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The fence 10 is made of several fence sections 12, each section 12 extending between a pair of posts 14. Of course, in other embodiments, a fence 10 may also be made of only one fence section 12 or may include any desired number of sections. It will also be understood that different sections of a given fence 10 may vary and design and that any fence including at least one section 12 as defined herein is understood to be within the scope of the present invention. A fence section 12 is made of rails 16,17; pickets 18; picket caps 20 and attaching means 22 for attaching the pickets 18 to the rails 16.

The posts 14 are typically substantially orthogonal to the ground surface, and solidly affixed to it. For example they may be fixed in a concrete base or inserted sufficiently deep in the ground. The posts 14 have an elongated shape, which is preferably a square or a cylindrical tubular shape, but they may have any other cross-section shape.

For each of the fence sections 12, an upper horizontal rail 16 and a lower horizontal rail 17 extend between the posts 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the upper 16 and lower 17 rails are similar, having an elongated and hollow shape, with a C-shape cross section. The rails 16, 17 may have other shapes—for example, they may be hollow with a U-shaped or square-shaped cross-section, and they also could be hollow or full elongated cylinders, although they preferably have a flat upper surface. They also are preferably made of metal, such as galvanized steel. The rails 16, 17 are connected transversally to the posts 14, preferably with brackets 26, but other connecting means can also be used, such as weld joints. Advantageously, a third rail may also extend and be connected between upper sections of the posts 14. Other configurations, and a different number of rails, could also be considered within the scope of the invention.

As more clearly shown in FIG. 2, the upper rail 16 is provided with a plurality of channels 28, which extend transversally through the rail 16. The channels 28 are devised to allow the insertion of the pickets 18. The cross section area of a channel 28 is preferably slightly larger than the cross-section area of a picket 18, the pickets 18 being described in more detail below. The channels 28 are preferably equidistant from one another. The lower rail 17 is similar to the upper rail 16, or may have a different shape or appearance.

Still referring to FIG. 2, a channel 28 is formed by an aperture 30 made on the upper surface 24 of the rail 16; by an inside cavity 31 of the C-shaped rail 16; and by the opening 34 located underneath the rail 16. The term “channel” is used in the sense of a passage allowing the insertion of a picket 18 through it. The channels 28 of the upper horizontal rail 16 of a section 12 are in vertical alignment with the channels 28 of the lower rail 17 of the same section 12. Of course, fence sections 12 may include more than two rails 16, 17, for example a middle rail may be located underneath the upper rail 16, in which case the middle rail will also include channels or other means of allowing the pickets therethrough.

The picket fence 10 may be provided with annular gaskets 36, preferably made of plastic or rubber, each gasket 36 being placed around a top extremity 38 of the picket 18. The gaskets 36 rest over the channel 28 of the upper rail 16 into which the corresponding picket 18 is inserted, and may prevent scores or scratches, and eventually corrosion on the upper rail 16, the scores and scratches due to the arms 40, 41 of the picket caps 20 resting over the rail 16.

Turning back to FIG. 1, the pickets 18 are vertically inserted through the channels 28 of the upper 16 and lower 17 rails, each picket 18 having its top extremity 38 projecting upwardly of the upper rail 16. Preferably, the number of pickets 18 corresponds to the number of channels 28 made through each of the rails 16,17. The pickets 18 are preferably of tubular shape and made of metal. They are long enough to be slid through one of the channels 28 of the upper rail 16 and through the aligned channels 28 of the lower rail 17 and of any additional rail in between.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, a picket cap 20, or a finial, is associated with each of the pickets 18. Each picket cap 20 has a body portion 42 rigidly affixed to the top extremity 38 of a corresponding picket 18. The picket cap 20 has a first arm 40 and a second 41 arm projecting on opposite sides of its body portion 42 and extending along the upper rail 16. In this preferred embodiment, the body portion 42 of each of the picket caps 20 has a cavity 32, the top extremity 38 of the corresponding picket 18 being snugly fitted into said cavity 32. Of course, other ways of affixing the picket cap 20 to the extremity of the pickets 18 may be considered. For example, the body portion 42 of a picket 18 can be a prism with a cross-section slightly smaller than the hollow inside cross-section of the picket 18, so that the picket cap 20 is snugly fitted inside the top extremity 38 of the picket 18. The picket cap 20 could also be screwed to the picket 18 or glued or welded to it, or any combination thereof.

Referring to FIG. 1 and also to FIGS. 4 and 6, the extended arms 40,41 of the cap 20 affixed to a particular picket 18 are attached to the extended arms 40, 41 of the caps 20 affixed to the pickets 18 adjacent to this particular picket 18. Of course, the picket cap 20 affixed to the pickets 18 adjacent to the posts are only attached to the arm, either 40 or 41, of one neighbour cap 20, since they only have one picket cap 20 neighbour. Preferably, unattached arms 40, 41 adjacent to the posts 14 are cut out. Picket caps 20 are preferably made of metal and their arms preferably rest over the upper rail 16.

Arms 40, 41 of adjacent picket caps are attached or secured to one another with attaching means 22. For example, attaching means 22 may be nails, glue, screws, connectors or, in other words, any elements that can link, maintain or secure one arm 40 or 41 of a cap to the arm 41 or 40 of a neighbouring cap 20.

In the preferred embodiments shown on FIGS. 4 and 6, the attaching means 22 are screws 44 and pins 46 respectively. It could also be considered that the attaching means 22 are part of the arms 40, 41 of the picket caps 20, for example with male and female joints that can be snapped or clipped to one another. In this case, each cap 20 would have a first arm 40 ending with a female part and a second arm 41 ending with a male part, the female part of the first arm being connectable to the male part of the arm of a neighbouring cap 20, and the male part of the second arm being connectable to the female part of the arm of the other neighbouring cap 20.

Now referring to FIGS. 3 to 3D and also to FIG. 4, there is shown a first preferred embodiment of the picket cap 20 of the invention, presenting an inverted T-shape with a body portion 42 and two arms 40, 41 diametrically opposed to one another. The body portion 42 of the picket cap 20 is provided with walls 50 defining a cavity 32 or a hollow prism having a cross-section area similar to the cross-section area of the top extremity 38 of the picket 18, ensuring that once the picket 18 is inserted into the cavity 32, it remains tightly in place. Alternatively or additionally, the body portion 48 of the cap 20 could be affixed to the corresponding picket 18 through a screwing arrangement, or with the help of any appropriate securing means such as an adhesive, nails, screws or the like. As shown, the body portion 48 of the picket cap 20 is preferably may be provided with an ornamental section 52 serving aesthetic purposes only.

In this embodiment, both arms 40,41 of the illustrated picket cap 20 define flat flanges 54. The distal end 56 of the flange 54 of the first arm 40 is folded into a riser section 58 and a step section 60 while the distal end 56 of the flange 54 of the second arm 41 is unfolded. Each of the distal ends 56 being provided with a hole 62, for receiving an attaching means 22. The step section 60 of the distal end 56 of the first arm 40 is devised such that it can overlap the distal end 56 of the second arm 41 of the picket cap 20 affixed to the adjacent picket 18. It will be understood that the designations of “first” and “second” arms are for ease of reference only, and do not denote of any preferential status or direction of each arm.

When affixed to a picket 18 and in use in the fence 10, the hole 62 of the distal end 56 of the first arm 40 is to be directly aligned with the hole 62 of the distal end 56 of the second arm 41 of the picket cap 20 of the adjacent picket 18. In the illustrated embodiment, the holes 62 of opposite arms 40, 41 of the picket cap 20 are located at an equal distance from the end of the arms 40, 41. Preferably, the holes 62 in the arms 40, 41 are threaded, and attaching means 22 is a screw 44 inserted through the threaded hole 62 of the distal end 56 of the first arm 40 of the picket cap 18 and through the aligned threaded hole 62 of the distal end 56 of the second arm 41 of the picket cap 20 of the adjacent picket 18. Optionally, the screw 44 can also secure the two arms 40, 41 of the caps 20 and the upper horizontal rail 16, where the rail 16 would be perforated at the inserting location of the screws 44.

In accordance with this embodiment, an ornamental element 64 is preferably connected on the outside of each arm 40, 41 of the cap 20, and positioned in such way as to be facing the complementary element 64 of the neighbouring caps 20. Once the caps 20 are in position in the fence 10, the ornamental elements 64 advantageously hide from view the attaching means 22. In FIGS. 3 to 3D, this ornamental element 64 is a disc but of course other types and shapes of elements could be used.

Referring to FIG. 5 to 5D and also to FIG. 6 another preferred embodiment of the picket cap 20 is shown. This embodiment still presents an inverted T-shape having a body portion 48 and two arms 40,41 diametrically opposed to one another, the body portion 48 being similar to the one described previously.

As for the arms 40, 41, both of them have their distal ends 56 upwardly curved. In use, the ends 56 are upwardly curved above the upper rail 16, each end 56 being provided with a ring 66 having an axis substantially orthogonal to the upper rail 16 and also substantially orthogonal to the picket 18 associated with the picket cap 20, the axis of the ring 66 of the first arm 40 corresponding to the axis of a complementary ring 66 of the second arm 41 of the picket cap 20 of the adjacent picket 18. In other words, each ring 66 is connected in such way that the axis passing though the center of the ring 66 is substantially orthogonal to the direction of the arms 40, 41 of the caps 20. Preferably, the depth of the ring 66 is half the depth of the arms 40, 41, as shown on FIGS. 5 and 5C.

In this embodiment, the attaching means 22 is a pin 46 fitted through the ring 66 of the first arm 40 of the picket cap 20 and through the complementary ring 66 of the second arm 41 of the picket cap 18 of the adjacent picket 18, to secure two neighbouring caps 20 together.

As with the previous embodiment, an ornamental element 64 is also preferably connected to the outside of each one of the arms 40, 41, as described in the paragraph above, the difference being that in this embodiment, the disc is preferably perforated in its center to allow passage for the pins 46 connecting the complementary rings 66 of neighbouring caps 20.

As will be clearly understood by one skilled in the art, fence sections 12 as described above may advantageously be brought to the location at which it is to be installed in the form of a kit, the kit including an appropriate number of rails, pickets, caps and attaching means as described above. The picket caps 20 can come separately from the pickets 18 or be pre-affixed to the pickets.

Another kit may only include the picket caps 20 and their appropriate attaching means 22. Other kits may also include upper and lower rails 16,17, picket caps 20 and attaching means 22, without the pickets 18.

Transport is therefore greatly facilitated with comparison to pre-welded fence sections as known in the prior art.

The Method for Building a Fence Section

Installation of such a fence 10 is also facilitated. In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for building a fence section 12, including components as described above.

In accordance with this method, and referring to FIGS. 1 to 4, a pair of posts 14 are erected and fixed to a rigid surface. Ends of the upper 16 and the lower 17 horizontal rails are then operatively connected to the steady posts 14, substantially orthogonally to the posts 14 and such that the channels 28 of the upper rail 16 are aligned with the channels 28 of the lower 17 rail. The lower 17 rail is connected between the lower sections of the posts 14, while the upper rail 16 is connected between the upper sections of the posts 14. The two rails 16,17 are placed in such way as to be substantially parallel to one another. A third rail can also be connected between the upper sections of the posts 14, substantially parallel to the uppermost rail 16.

Picket caps 20 are then each affixed to the top ends 38 of corresponding pickets 18. Each picket cap 20 has its body portion 42 rigidly affixed to the top extremity 38 of its corresponding picket 18, the picket cap 20 having its first arm 40 and second 41 arm projecting on opposite sides of its body portion 42.

The operation of affixing the caps 20 to the pickets 18 can be done before delivery of the fence components to the installation site, for example with a manual or automatic press, or on site at the time of installation. The picket caps 20 and pickets 18 are secured together in any appropriate manner, as described above, preferably by snapping the picket 18 into the cavity 32 of the picket cap 20. At this stage, gaskets 36 may be slipped over the pickets 18, or they may be placed around the apertures 30 of the channels 28 of the upper rail 16.

Once provided with their caps 20, the pickets 18 are inserted into a corresponding pair of channels 28 of the rails (one channel of the upper rail 16, and the other corresponding channel on the lower rail 17, aligned with the upper channel) such that the top extremity 38 of each of the pickets 18 projects upwardly of the upper rail 16 and such that the first 40 and second 41 arms of each of the picket caps 20 extend along said upper rail 16.

More specifically, a first picket 18 is inserted through a channel 28 of the upper rail 16; is slipped through the channel 28; and then is inserted through the corresponding channel 28 of the lower rail 17. Would there be more than two rails 40, 41, the same procedure would be conducted so that the picket 18 passes through all of the rails. The procedure is repeated for the second and all subsequent pickets 18 to be installed in the fence section 12. The cap 20 affixed to the top extremity 38 of each picket 18 preferably rests on the upper rail 16 and is supported thereby, maintaining the picket 18 at the proper position.

The first arm 40 of each picket cap 20 is then attached to the second arm 41 of the picket caps 20 affixed to the adjacent pickets 18 with attaching means 22. In other words, the arms 40, 41 of neighbouring picket caps 20 are secured to one another.

More specifically, according to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 4, the picket caps 20 are sized and shaped and the pickets 18 are spaced so that when in position, the step section 60 of the distal end 56 of the first arm 40 of the caps 20 overlap the complementary unfolded end 56 of the second arm 41 the immediately adjacent cap 20. Ends 56 of the arms 40, 41 are secured to one another, preferably using a screw 44 screwed through the threaded holes 62, securing the caps 20 together.

According to another preferred embodiment of the invention, depicted in FIGS. 5 to 5D and to FIG. 6, the rings 66 of the curved distal ends 56 of the arms 40, 41 face the complementary rings 66 of the neighbour cap 20. The distal ends 56 of the arms 40, 41 are secured to one another, preferably using connecting pins 46 that are passed through the center of the rings 66.

As being now better appreciated, the present invention is an improvement and presents several advantages over the other related devices and/or methods known in the prior art. Indeed, the fence can be sold in kits, its components are easy to assemble and the attachment of the components minimizes the use of welding. Furthermore, the attachment system of pickets to rails using caps requires no modification to pickets devised to be welded. Of course, numerous modifications could be made to the embodiments above without departing from the scope of the present invention.





 
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