Title:
PORTABLE INTEGRAL FITTED PLASTIC PIPE SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A detachable portable plastic pipe assembly comprises a molded coupling fused to pipes with a gasket inserted in between the pipes to form a seal. A spline is inserted into an aperture formed by the molded coupling to create a lock. The spline is mechanically attached or fused to the coupling. The assembly is attached to a water source for water transport. The gasket for forming a seal comprises an inside lip, an outside lip, and a nipple. The inside lip is composed of a softer material than the outside lip, and extends slightly beyond the length of the outside lip.



Inventors:
Clare, James Carter (Escalon, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/396310
Publication Date:
09/03/2009
Filing Date:
03/02/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
277/626
International Classes:
F16L55/00; F16L17/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KEE, FANNIE C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GLENN PATENT GROUP (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
1. A detachable pipe system comprising: at least two pipes, said pipes being comprised of plastic; a stab fused to a first end of each of said pipes or a sleeve pressed into said first end of each of said pipes; a molded coupling fused to a second end of said first pipe, said molded coupling forming an aperture for insertion of a locking mechanism, said molded coupling forming a first groove that is aligned with said aperture for receiving said locking mechanism and a second groove for receiving a gasket, said molded coupling receiving a second pipe; and said gasket coupled to said molded coupling, said gasket comprising a flexible material for forming a seal with said second pipe.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said locking mechanism comprises a spline comprising a flat portion attached to a cord comprised of a flexible material, said cord of said spline being inserted into said aperture of said molded coupling, said flat portion of said spline being affixed with said molded coupling, said spline being positioned between said pipe and said molded coupling to prevent movement between said pipe and said molded coupling.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein said stab end forms a groove that is aligned with said first groove in said molded coupling, for insertion of said locking mechanism therebetween.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein said gasket comprises an inside lip and an outside lip, said outside lip further comprising a nipple, said inside lip being inserted into an aperture of said molded coupling, said outside lip being aligned with said second groove in said molded coupling, said gasket being positioned between said first pipe and said molded coupling to prevent movement and form a seal between said first pipe and said molded coupling.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein said pressed sleeve forms a seal with said gasket.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein said gasket is an annular gasket.

7. The system of claim 6, said annular gasket being constructed of a rubber material.

8. The system of claim 1, said locking mechanism and said pipe being constructed of a material from a group consisting of polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, and polyethylene.

9. A method for assembling detachable pipes, the method comprising the steps of: pressing a sleeve into or fusing a stab with a first end of a first pipe; inserting said sleeve or said stab of said first pipe into a molded coupling until said sleeve or said stab abuts a first groove in said molded coupling; inserting a gasket into said second groove in said molded coupling, said gasket forming a seal with said first pipe; inserting a locking mechanism into an aperture in said molded coupling; aligning said locking mechanism with a first groove in said molded coupling; pushing on said portion of said locking mechanism inserted through said aperture of said molded coupling until it forms a secure lock between said molded coupling and said first pipe; and fusing a second pipe to an end of said molded coupling.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of fusing said spline to said molded coupling.

11. The method of claim 9, wherein said gasket is inserted into an aperture of said molded coupling until said sidewall of said gasket is fully seated in said aperture.

12. The method of claim 9, further comprising the steps of: pressing a sleeve or fusing a stab to said second pipe; and aligning said sleeve or a groove in said stab in said second groove of said molded coupling for receiving said locking mechanism.

13. The method of claim 9, further comprising the steps of: fusing a second molded coupling to said second pipe; inserting a second locking mechanism into said second molded coupling; inserting a third irrigation pipe into said second molded coupling; and attaching said third irrigation pipe to a water source.

14. The method of claim 9, wherein said first pipe comprises a groove, the method further comprising the step of aligning said groove in said first pipe with said first groove in said molded coupling for receiving said locking mechanism.

15. The method of claim 9 further comprising the step of detaching said locking mechanism from said molded coupling by pulling said locking mechanism from said aperture.

16. A gasket configured to form a sealing mechanism between a molded coupling and a terminal end of a portable pipe, said gasket comprising: an outside lip for insertion into an aperture of said molded coupling, said outside lip composed of a harder material than said inside lip, said outside lip comprising a nipple for providing additional pressure to facilitate said seal; a side wall fused to said outside lip, said side wall being configured to be seated in said aperture of said molded coupling to form a seal; and an inside lip for insertion into a groove of said molded coupling.

17. The gasket of claim 16, wherein said gasket is constructed of rubber.

18. The gasket of claim 16, said inside lip of said gasket constructed of vulcanized rubber.

19. The gasket of claim 16, wherein said inside lip extends beyond the length of said outside lip.

20. The gasket of claim 16, wherein said nipple is deformable.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims the benefit of provisional application Ser. No. 61/032,560, titled “Integral Fitted Portable Pipe,” filed on Feb. 29, 2008 and provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/093,929, titled “Gasket for Integral Fitted Portable Pipes,” filed on Sep. 3, 2008, the entirety of each of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention pertains generally to a portable pipe assembly for irrigation and water transport, and more specifically a portable pipe assembly that includes a spline and gasket for both locking and sealing and a molded coupling that is fused to the pipes for rapid assembly, disassembly, and transportation of temporary pipelines.

BACKGROUND

Portable pipes are commonly used for irrigation and to transport water where a temporary pipeline is sufficient for a short-time need. As water becomes a scarce commodity, particularly in dry, agricultural areas such as California, irrigation sprinklers and drip irrigation systems are essential to conserve water and produce crops on rapidly diminishing farmland. Temporary water systems are also commonly used to control dust on construction sites, fight fires, or provide water during emergencies.

Irrigation systems can be permanent, semi-portable, or fully portable. Permanent irrigation systems are typically composed of metal and plastics, and the parts are generally fused together to prevent water leakage. Fully portable systems are easily assembled and disassembled. Portable systems therefore require lightweight equipment such as aluminum or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes in relatively short sections. The systems include a multiplicity of gaskets and other water-tight seals so as to build sufficient water pressure to expel water through sprinkler heads or drip irrigation equipment.

Portable pipe systems frequently suffer from water leakage, corrosion, and are cumbersome to install because of all the coupling locations and variable components. At the very least, each system contains a series of pipes coupled to a main system: some supplying the water to sprinkler heads or drip irrigation equipment and other portable pipe systems simply used for water transport fitted to the pipes.

FIG. 1A (prior art) is from U.S. Pat. No. 5,511,826, and illustrates a sprinkler fitting 100 that is coupled to irrigation pipes (not shown). The sprinkler riser orifice 105 contains threads 110 for screwing the sprinkler head into the sprinkler fitting 100. A flexible polymeric spline 115 is inserted in each through-hole 120 between irrigation pipes and the tubular fitting member 125 to form two mechanical latches. This portable pipe coupling, which is used to join two separate pipes, is slow and cumbersome to install and requires several parts to complete a pipe line. This coupling is a recent modification for PVC pipe.

Connections for aluminum and steel pipes in portable systems also include gaskets and a locking device. FIG. 1B (prior art) is an example of an aluminum fitting 127 pressed or welded to the aluminum pipe with a latching mechanism 130. FIG. 1C (prior art) is an example of a galvanized fitting 135 pressed into an aluminum pipe with a locking mechanism 140. FIG. 1D (prior art) is an example of a joint assembly with a detachable coupler 145 that is coupled to the pipe 147 by inserting a spline 150 into the insertion hole 152 in the coupler 145.

Current technology for PVC systems use loose couplers. FIG. 1E (prior art) is an example of a loose coupler 155 for connecting two pipes 157. FIG. 1F (prior art) is another example of a loose coupler 160 with two insertion holes 152 for splines.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a portable pipe assembly comprises pipes coupled to each other, each pipe having a male end (stab) and a female end (coupling), each coupling having a locking device (spline) and an annular gasket to form a seal. The molded coupling surrounds the stab end of the pipe and a locking mechanism is incorporated between the coupling and another pipe. The locking mechanism can be either a spline or a gasket having a hook mechanism. At one end, a molded coupling comprises a groove for receiving the annular gasket and another groove for receiving the locking mechanism. The pipes are composed of a fusible material such as polyethylene.

The features and advantages described in this summary and in the following detailed description are not all-inclusive, and particularly, many additional features and advantages will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in view of the drawings, specification, and claims hereof. Moreover, it should be noted that the language used in the specification has been principally selected for readability and instructional purposes, and may not have been selected to delineate or circumscribe the inventive subject matter, resort to the claims being necessary to determine such inventive subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A-1F are prior art front perspectives of various pipe assemblies.

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of a portable pipe assembly, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional front perspective view of a molded coupling and an annular gasket, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective, cross-sectional view of a molded coupling, an irrigation pipe, an annular gasket, and a spline, according to one of the embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5A is a front perspective view of a gasket, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5B is a partial perspective, cross-sectional view of a portable pipe, molded coupling, and gasket, according to one of the embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of an assembled irrigation system, according to one of the embodiments of the invention.

The Figures depict embodiments of the present invention for purposes of illustration only. One skilled in the art will readily recognize from the following discussion that alternative embodiments of the structures illustrated herein may be employed without departing from the principles of the invention detailed herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 2 illustrates a portable pipe assembly that includes a pipe 200, a stab end 210, an annular gasket 235, and a molded coupling 215, according to one embodiment of the invention.

In one embodiment, the pipe 200 is composed of a fusible plastic material such as polyethylene. In other embodiments, the pipe 200 is composed of any other lightweight material, such as aluminum, PVC, polypropylene, etc. Many other examples of lightweight fusible construction materials for pipes are known to those of ordinary skill in the relevant art, and their use within the context of the present invention will be readily apparent to one of such a skill level in light of this specification. The pipe wall can be of any thickness. The irrigation pipe 200 can provide an aperture 202 for coupling to a sprinkler head or valve.

In one embodiment, a sleeve 205 is pressed into one end of the pipe 200 to maintain roundness. The sleeve 205 comprises a male end that mates with the inner diameter of the irrigation pipe 200. In another embodiment, a molded stab 210 that matches the outer diameter of the pipe is fused to the pipe 200 using glue, heat, etc. in order to provide a durable, hard end that resists damage and maintains roundness. The stab 210 contains a groove 220 that is aligned with a first groove 225 in the molded coupling 215. This irrigation pipe 200 is positioned at the end of the irrigation pipe assembly.

The molded coupling 215 is a female coupler that receives either the stab 210 fused with the pipe 200 or mates directly with the outer diameter of the pipe 200. In one embodiment, the molded coupling 215 is made of the same fusible material as the pipe 200. Many other examples of construction materials for molded couplings are known to those of ordinary skill in the relevant art, and their use within the context of the present invention will be readily apparent to one of such a skill level in light of this specification. The molded coupling 215 has a first groove 225 for insertion of the spline 400 and a second groove 230 for insertion of the annular gasket 235.

FIG. 2 illustrates an aperture 202 in the pipe 202 where an outlet or valve can be fused according to one embodiment of the invention. For example, a polyethylene branch saddle is sized to fuse to the outer diameter of the pipe. A person of ordinary skill in the art will understand in light of this specification that different types of valves can be affixed in different types of ways, as long as a proper seal is formed and water does not leak from the seal.

FIG. 3 illustrates the inside of the molded coupling 215 and a side view of the annular gasket 235 that is inserted inside the second groove 230 according to one embodiment of the invention. The stab end 210 is inserted into the molded coupling 215 until it seals with the annular gasket 235. The opposite side of the molded coupling 215 is the same diameter as the pipe 200 to which it is fused. A spline and annular gasket are inserted between the pipe 200 and the molded coupling 215 to form a lock and seal. When the stab 210 is inserted into the coupling, the locking grooves align and the annular gasket 235 seats on the smooth surface of the stab 210 end or pipe 200.

In one embodiment, the gasket is made of rubber and comprises multiple lips for forming a seal. The diameter, style, and thickness of the gasket 235 are modified according to the size of the pipe 200 and the coupling 215.

FIG. 4 illustrates the molded coupling 215 coupled to the stab 210 end of the pipe 200 (pipe #1) with a spline 400 inserted between an irrigation pipe 200 and the molded coupling 215 to form a lock according to one embodiment of the invention. An annular gasket 235 is placed in a second groove 230 of the molded coupling 215 to provide a seal.

The spline comprises a flat piece or knob and a cord made of flexible material such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, PVC, nylon, polyamide, etc. The cord portion of the spline 400 is inserted in the first groove 225 of the molded coupling 215. The spline 400 is threaded through an aperture 300 in the molded coupling 215. The flat part of the spline is either fused or mechanically attached to the coupling. One function of the flat piece is to prevent the entire spline 400 from being pulled though the aperture 300 in the molded coupling 215. The cord portion of the spline 400 provides the lock.

Gasket

FIG. 5A illustrates a specialized gasket 500 used to establish a sealing mechanism, according to one embodiment of the invention. Gaskets tend to leak at low pressure, particularly when the entire gasket is made of the same material or similar materials. In one embodiment, the gasket 500 can be composed of two separate materials. The inside lip 505 is composed of a soft material, e.g., Neoprene®, spandex, nylon, etc. The outside lip 510 can be composed of a harder material, e.g., rubber.

In one embodiment, the same material is used for both the inside lip 505 and the outside lip 510, but each section is processed according to different techniques to elicit different chemical properties. For example, the gasket 500 can be entirely composed of rubber, but the inside part can undergo vulcanization, i.e., be heated and chemically combined with sulfur to soften the rubber. In one embodiment, the inside lip 505 extends beyond the length of the outside lip 510.

The gasket 500 in FIG. 5A is positioned along a longitudinal axis 520. The gasket 500 comprises a substantially rectangular inside lip 505 that is parallel to the longitudinal axis 520. In other embodiments, the inside lip 505 is another shape that allows a user to grasp the lip, e.g. cylindrical, barbed, square, etc. The outside lip 510 is parallel to the inside lip 505, which extends beyond the length of the outside lip 510.

A sidewall 525 connects the outside lip 510 and the inside lip 505. The sidewall 525 secures the gasket 500 in a fixed position when the outside lip 510 is inserted into the aperture, until it is fully seated around the entire circumference thereof. The outside lip 510 is aligned with the second groove 230 in the molded coupling 215 for added stability. FIG. 5B shows the gasket 500 inserted through the aperture 300 in the molded coupling to create a seal between the molded coupling 215 and the stab 210 or pipe 200. From this perspective, only the inside lip 505 is visible.

The outside lip 510 of the gasket 500 contains a deformable nipple 515, which provides additional compression for the seal, which is accomplished primarily by the inside lip 505. The nipple 515 is typically composed of the same material as the bottom lip 510.

In one embodiment, the inside lip 505 of the gasket is 1.10 inches, the outside lip 510 is 1.00 inches, and the nipple 515 on the bottom lip 510 is ¼ inches high and ¼ inches wide. These measurements are not required to practice the invention, but rather, serve as a guide as to how one skilled in the art might practice the invention. Other measurements are possible, and the use thereof within the context of the specification.

FIG. 6 shows a pipe assembly that uses the specialized gasket 500 to form the seal between the portable pipe from FIG. 2 and another portable pipe from FIG. 2 according to one embodiment of the invention. The portable pipes from FIG. 2 are connected until the assembly is long enough to provide water to the required area. The first portable pipe in the chain is attached to a water source 600. Water is pumped into the pipe assembly at sufficient pressure to transport water through the pipeline or valve 605.

As will be understood by those familiar with the art, the invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. Likewise, the particular naming and division of the members, features, attributes, and other aspects are not mandatory or significant, and the mechanisms that implement the invention or its features may have different names, divisions and/or formats. Accordingly, the disclosure of the present invention is intended to be illustrative, but not limiting, of the scope of the invention, which is set forth in the following claims.