Title:
Method and Apparatus for Providing a Walkway
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable walkway system comprising a plurality of frames composed of upright assemblies attached to post base assemblies and connected by upper and lower runners. Roof panels are connected across the upper runners and floor panels are connected across the lower runners to create a covered walkway system. The frames can be anchored to the ground to secure the walkway and the various components of the walkway can be assembled and secured with bolts or screws. The walkway can be assembled easily and quickly and is particularly useful with temporary or modular buildings, since it can be easily and fully disassembled and moved to a new location as the buildings are moved or replaced.



Inventors:
Towell, Dennis K. (Oviedo, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/364277
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
02/02/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
404/72
International Classes:
E01C9/08; E01C5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PAINTER, BRANON C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENNIS K. TOWELL (SANFORD, FL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A walkway assembly system, comprising: at least one frame including at least one post base assembly having at least two upright members, at least one lower cross-beam operably connected to each of the upright members at or near their lower ends, such that the upright members extend upward and parallel to each other and perpendicular to the lower cross-beam; at least one upright assembly having at least two vertical posts joined to the at least two upright members, at least one upper cross-beam operably connected to each of the vertical posts at or near their top ends, such that vertical posts extend downward and parallel to each other and perpendicular to the cross-beam, at least one elongated upper runner coupled to the top ends of the vertical posts so as to be perpendicular to the at least one frame; at least one elongated lower runner coupled to the bottom ends of the upright members, so as to be perpendicular to the at least one frame and parallel to the upper runner.

2. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, wherein the operable connection of the upright members and lower cross-beam is removable.

3. The walkway assembly, according to claim 2, wherein the operable connection of the vertical posts and upper cross-beam is removable.

4. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, further comprising one or more side brackets for securing the at least one upper runner to the vertical posts.

5. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, further comprising one or more runner brackets for securing the at least one lower runner to the upright members.

6. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, further comprising at least one mid-span support in operable connection to the at least one lower runner.

7. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, further comprising at least one brace secured to the upright assembly.

8. The walkway assembly, according to claim 4, further comprising at least one roof panel removably coupled to the at least one upper runner.

9. The walkway assembly, according to claim 5, further comprising at least one floor panel removably coupled to the at least one lower runner.

10. The walkway assembly, according to claim 9, further comprising at least one leveling assembly operably connected to the floor panel.

11. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, wherein the upright member and vertical post each further comprise at least one pre-drilled adjustment hole.

12. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, further comprising a tie-down assembly for securing the at least one frame to the ground.

13. The walkway assembly, according to claim 12, wherein the tie-down assembly utilizes one or more duckbill anchors.

14. The walkway assembly, according to claim 12, wherein the tie-down assembly utilizes one or more anchor rods.

15. The walkway assembly, according to claim 4, further comprising at least one joiner insert.

16. The walkway assembly, according to claim 5, further comprising at least one joiner insert.

17. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, wherein the post base assembly is stabilized by being secured to a concrete pad, base plate, ABS pad, or combinations thereof.

18. The walkway assembly, according to claim 1, further comprising at least one adjustable collar joined to the lower cross-beam for removably coupling with the at least one upright member.

19. A method of constructing a walkway assembly, comprising: constructing at least one frame by coupling a post base assembly having at least two upright members, at least one lower cross-beam operably connectable to each of the upright members at or near their lower ends, such that the upright members extend upward and parallel to each other and perpendicular to the lower cross-beam; and an upright assembly having at least two vertical posts joined to the at least two upright members, at least one upper cross-beam operably connected to each of the vertical posts at or near their top ends, such that the vertical posts extend downward and parallel to each other and perpendicular to the cross-beam, and coupling two or more frames with at least one elongated upper runner coupled to the top ends of the vertical posts so as to be perpendicular to the at least two frames; and at least one elongated lower runner coupled to the bottom ends of the upright members, so as to be perpendicular to the at least two frames and parallel to the upper runner.

20. The method, according to claim 19, wherein the connection between the at least one upright member and the lower cross-beam, and the at least one vertical post and the upper cross-beam is removable.

21. The method, according to claim 19, wherein the upright member and vertical post each further comprise at least one pre-drilled adjustment hole.

22. The method, according to claim 21, further comprising, adjusting the height of the upright member to the desired position, aligning the at least one pre-drilled adjustment hole in the upright member with the at least one pre-drilled adjustment hole in the vertical post, coupling the vertical post to the upright member with a removable connection.

23. The method, according to claim 22, further comprising removably attaching at least one roof panel to the at least one elongated upper runner.

24. The method, according to claim 23, further comprising removably attaching at least one floor panel to the at least one elongated lower runner.

25. The method, according to claim 19, further comprising affixing one or more tie-down members to each frame.

26. The method, according to claim 25, wherein the tie-down assembly utilizes one or more duckbill anchors.

27. The method, according to claim 25, wherein the tie-down assembly utilizes one or more anchor rods.

28. The method, according to claim 19, further comprising stabilizing the post base assembly by securing it to a concrete pad, base plate, ABS pad, or combinations thereof.

29. The method, according to claim 19, further comprising at least one adjustable collar joined to the lower cross-beam for removably coupling with the at least one upright member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/025,606, filed Feb. 1, 2008, and claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/094,723, filed Sep. 5, 2008, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entirety, including any figures, tables, or drawings.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Embodiments of the subject invention pertain to a method and apparatus for a covered walkway or corridor. Embodiments of the walkway system include a covering assembly and can further include a flooring assembly. Advantageously, embodiments can be utilized with existing permanent or modular buildings and structures and can be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled.

Currently, covered walkways are typically constructed as permanent structures comprising a poured concrete slab and various vertical members secured within the slab. The vertical members are used to support beams to which roof panels are attached. Such structures are often stable and secure, but are permanent structures that cannot be moved or easily disassembled.

Portable buildings have become popular as a way to temporarily provide structures, such as housing, classrooms, and meeting places. It is often desirable to provide walkways to, or between, these temporary facilities. However, a permanent walkway system is often impractical for use with temporary structures, since the permanent walkway usually has to be destroyed as permanent structures are built or temporary facilities removed.

Further, in areas that experience high winds and/or other severe inclement weather such as hurricanes, structures that can be quickly disassembled for storage may be more desirable. Under such conditions, it is often not possible with the limited time available to disassemble complicated structures. Thus, permanent walkways or other outdoor structures are often damaged during extreme storms, and loose pieces that come off the structures can cause further damage to surrounding structures.

Accordingly, there exists a need for a covered walkway system that can be easily and quickly assembled or disassembled at a site. Further, it would be beneficial to have a walkway that can be utilized with existing temporary or permanent structures. A walkway that also allows for a variety of layouts, including straight or turned sections, as well as ramp sections and be adjustable for different terrains would also be advantageous. A technique for anchoring the walkway to the ground and utilizing the walkway with a foundation would also be advantageous.

BRIEF SUMMARY

Embodiments of the invention relate to a method and apparatus for providing a walkway. Specific embodiments of the subject walkway can be covered. Further specific embodiments relate to a cover that can be utilized with other walkways. Embodiments can be assembled, disassembled, and/or reassembled on-site. In specific embodiments, a walkway can include a frame structure derived from a post base assembly to which is affixed an upright assembly. A plurality of frames can be positioned at intervals along a walking path and joined and supported with upper runners and lower runners. Once the appropriate number of frames have been assembled and joined, roof panels and floor panels can be affixed across runners to form a uniform walking surface and roof covering.

In an embodiment, advantageously, the components of the walkway of the subject invention are pre-engineered to fit together in a precise, pre-measured configuration, which eliminates time-consuming make-shift assembly on-site. In further embodiments, most or all of the components can be assembled with screws, nuts, bolts or similarly removable connections that allow the entire structure to be disassembled and moved to a new location, or stored. The walkway system of the subject invention can be convenient and easy to assemble. Completed structures have been tested to be secure and stable under most environmental conditions, including wind speeds up to approximately 150 miles per hour.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

In order that a more precise understanding of the above recited invention be obtained, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof that are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered as limiting in scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a front plan cross-section view that illustrates the configuration the pre-engineered components utilized in the assembly of one embodiment of a walkway system of the subject invention.

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of one embodiment of a post base assembly of the subject invention.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of one embodiment of an upright assembly of the subject invention.

FIG. 4A is an isometric view of an alternative embodiment of an upright assembly of the subject invention utilizing collars to secure upright members.

FIG. 4B is a side plan cross-section view of a section of the walkway that illustrates one embodiment of the upright assembly shown in FIG. 4A utilized with a walkway in accordance with the subject invention.

FIG. 4C is a front plan view that further clarifies the embodiment shown in FIG. 4B.

FIG. 5A is a front plan cross-section view of an embodiment of the walkway of the subject invention that illustrates, among other things, one anchoring technique.

FIG. 5B is an isometric view of an anchor line bracket that can be used with the embodiment shown in FIG. 5A.

FIG. 6A is a front plan cross-section view of an embodiment of the walkway of the subject invention that illustrates, among other things, an alternative anchoring technique.

FIG. 6B is an isometric view of an alternative anchor line bracket that can be used with the embodiment shown in FIG. 6A.

FIG. 7 is a front plan view of a section of one embodiment of an upright assembly illustrating a brace, as well as one embodiment of upper runners positioned within a side bracket, and the placement of a roof panel.

FIG. 8A and 8B are isometric views of the embodiment shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 8C is an isometric view of one embodiment of a side bracket that can be used with the walkway in accordance with the subject invention.

FIG. 9A is a side view of stacked upper runners connected by a mid-span brace and a joiner insert.

FIG. 9B and 9C are isometric views that illustrate embodiments of joiner inserts that can be utilized with runners of the subject invention.

FIG. 10 is an isometric view of a mid-span brace that can be used with runners of the subject invention.

FIG. 11A is an isometric view of an embodiment of a runner bracket that can be used to secure lower runners of the walkway of the subject invention.

FIG. 11B and 11C are front plan cross-section and side plan cross-section views, respectively, of a post base assembly detail that shows how the runner bracket of FIG. 11A can be used in one embodiment of the walkway of the subject invention.

FIG. 12A is an isometric view of a leveling assembly that can be used with an embodiment of the walkway of the subject invention.

FIG. 12B is a front plan view detailing the features of an embodiment of a post base assembly and an example of the placement of a leveling assembly shown in FIG. 12A.

FIG. 13A is a side plan view of an awning system that can be utilized with a walkway in accordance with the subject invention.

FIG. 13B is an isometric view of an embodiment of an awning support bracket that can be used with the awning system shown in FIG. 13A.

FIGS. 14A-I are photographs that show one embodiment of the sequence of steps during assembly of a walkway of the subject invention. The walkway illustrated did not utilize concrete footers and was assembled in approximately 6 hours.

FIG. 15A-I illustrate the sequence of steps for assembling a specific embodiment of multiple walkways the of the subject invention.

DETAILED DISCLOSURE

Embodiments of the invention relate to a method and apparatus for providing a walkway. Specific embodiments of the subject walkway can be covered. Further specific embodiments relate to a cover that can be utilized with other walkways. Embodiments can be assembled, disassembled, and/or reassembled on-site. In specific embodiments, a walkway can include a frame structure derived from a post base assembly to which is affixed an upright assembly. A plurality of frames can be positioned at intervals along a walking path and joined and supported with upper runners and lower runners. Once the appropriate number of frames have been assembled and joined, roof panels and floor panels can be affixed across runners to form a uniform walking surface and roof covering.

The following description will disclose that embodiments of the subject invention are particularly useful in the field of non-permanent structures, in particular the construction of removable, temporary or portable walkway systems. In preferable embodiments, the various components are assembled utilizing devices and techniques that permit quick and easy assembly with pre-engineered components that also permit later disassembly without damage to the walkway components. However, a person with skill in the art will be able to recognize numerous uses that would be applicable to the devices and methods of the subject invention. Further, while the subject application describes a use for constructing portable walkways, other modifications, including more permanent assembly techniques will be apparent to a person with skill in the art and having benefit of the subject disclosure are contemplated to be within the scope of the present invention. Therefore, it should be understood that any references made to the attachment or connection of components of the subject invention include temporary, removable attachment means and more permanent, non-removable attachment means known to those with skill in the art.

All references to “first”, “second”, and the like (e.g., first and second bracket), as used herein, and unless otherwise specifically stated, are intended to identify a particular feature of which there are at least two. However, these references are not intended to confer any order in time, structural orientation, or sidedness (e.g., left or right) with respect to a particular feature.

Embodiments of the present invention are more particularly described in the following examples that are intended to be illustrative only since numerous modifications and variations therein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. As used in the specification and in the claims, the singular for “a,” “an” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

The invention will now be described with reference to several the embodiments selected for illustration in the drawings. It should be understood that the spirit and scope of this invention is not limited to the embodiments shown in the drawings or the following description. Also, it should also be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale and that any reference to dimensions in the drawings or the following description are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention in any way.

With reference to the attached figures, which show certain embodiments of the subject invention, it can be seen that embodiments of the subject invention include, in general, a post base assembly 20 to which is affixed an upright assembly 40 to form a frame 60. A plurality of frames 60 can be joined and will support upper runners 50 and lower runners 30. Once an appropriate number of frames 60 have been assembled and joined, roof panels 80 and floor panels 90 can be affixed to the frames 60 and runners 50 and 30. An embodiment of an assembled frame 60 with attached roof and floor panels can be seen in FIG. 1.

The materials used in various pre-engineered components of specific embodiments of the subject invention can vary and depend upon numerous factors such as the local environment in which the walkway is installed, material costs, durability, weight of components, and other issues. In the embodiments exemplified herein, galvanized steel is the preferred material utilized for the various pre-engineered components. Thus, in the embodiments disclosed below it will seen that galvanized steel square tubing of different dimensions can be utilized for the frame components and runners and other components. In addition, galvanized steel forms can be utilized for the pre-engineered hardware components of the subject invention. However, it should be understood that other materials and products known in the art can be used with specific embodiments of the subject invention.

In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 2, a post-base assembly 20 includes at least two upright members 21 that are operably connected by at least one lower cross-beam 22 at or near the bottom end 100 of the interior sides 150 of an upright member 21. In a further embodiment, an upright member and a vertical post include at least one, preferably multiple, pre-drilled adjustment holes 24, as seen in FIGS. 2 and 11B, capable of receiving one or more bolts, screws, or similar devices. As will be discussed below, post base assemblies 20 are connected by lower runners 30 utilizing brackets that can be affixed to the upright members 21 and/or adjusted utilizing bolts, screws, or similar devices in conjunction with the holes 24. Further, as will be shown, an upright assembly 40 will be adjusted and affixed to the post-base assembly and can utilize one or more bolts and screws with the pre-drilled holes 24 in the upright members and vertical posts An embodiment of an upright assembly 40 is shown in FIG. 3. FIG. 11B illustrates how the upright members and vertical posts can be joined by aligning holes and each and securing at the proper height with bolts, screws, pins, or other temporary connection devices.

In a further embodiment, the upright members 21 are operably connected to the lower cross-beam 22 by welding or other permanent connection. But, in an alternative embodiment, the post-base assembly 20 can be operably connected or assembled with bolts, screws, pins or other temporary connection devices, known to those with skill in the art. For example, FIG. 4A illustrates an alternative embodiment of a post base assembly 20, wherein an upright member 21 is positioned within a collar 23 to which is attached a lower cross beam 22. This embodiment, allows the lower cross beam 22 to be adjusted vertically and secured to the upright members 21. FIGS. 4B, 4C illustrate and FIGS. 14A and 14B are photographs of one embodiment of an adjustable post base assembly wherein the bottom end 100 of the upright member 21 can be driven into the ground and the lower cross beam 22 adjusted vertically and secured with collars 23.

The post base assembly 20 can provide the main stationary support for the walkway assembly. Thus, each post base assembly 20 can be secured in position. Any of a variety of anchor or tie-down assemblies 25 and methods known in the art can be employed to secure the post base assembly in position. In certain embodiments, as shown, for example, in FIGS. 1 and 6A, one or more duckbill anchors can be utilized with the tie-down assembly 27 to secure a post-base assembly 20 to the ground, a slab, or other surface. The duckbill anchors can be driven to a sufficient depth into the ground or other terrain and the anchor line attached thereto can be further secured to the post base assembly. In an alternative embodiment, one or more anchor rods can be employed with the tie-down assembly 27 of the subject invention, as shown in FIG. 5A. In these embodiments, the one or more tie-down anchors 27 can be driven to the required ground depth and secured with an anchor line to an upright member 21. In one embodiment, the anchor line can be extended and secured through the center of an upright member, as shown in FIG. 1, utilizing techniques known in the art, such as a threaded tightening rod 29 used with a tension plate 29A, illustrated in FIG. 1. Alternatively, an anchor line can be attached to an upright member 21, as shown in FIGS. 5A and 6A, utilizing anchor line brackets 26, as shown in FIGS. 5B and 6B. It should be understood that substitution of alternative tie-down assemblies, anchors or other securing apparatuses other than those specifically exemplified herein are also within the scope of the present invention.

The post base assembly 20, and/or components thereof, can be affixed to any of a variety of supports to aid in securing it to the ground, and for stability, positioning, and the like. FIG. 2 illustrates one example of a post base assembly 20 affixed along its bottom end 100 to a base plate 28 that, in turn, can be secured to a second surface, such as, for example, a concrete pad or slab, as shown, for example, in FIG. 5.

The width of the post base assembly can be variable and depends upon the length of the lower cross-beam 22. In one embodiment, the lower cross-beams can be pre-engineered from approximately 4.0 ft. to approximately 6.0 ft in length. In a further embodiment, the lower cross-beams can be pre-engineered from approximately 4.3 ft to approximately 6.8 ft. in length. Preferably, the length of the cross-beams coincides with the length of the floor panels and/or roof panels, discussed below, which can be used with the walkway assembly.

Once a required number of post base assemblies have been secured, one or more upright assemblies 40 can then be positioned and secured to the post base assemblies 20, as shown, for example in FIG. 1, to form a series of complete, enclosed frames 60, an example of which is shown in FIGS. 14C and 14D. An upright assembly 40 can include, in general, at least one vertical post 41 having an upper cross-beam 42 operably connected at or near the top end 200. In an exemplified embodiment, an upright assembly 40 includes two vertical posts 41 with an upper cross-beam 42 positioned between them at or near the top end 200. In one embodiment, an upper cross-beam 42 is operably connected, such as, for example, by fixedly attaching, between the vertical posts 41 utilizing any means known in the art, such as, for example, welding. In an alternative embodiment, similar to the lower cross-beam 22, an upper cross-beam 42 can also be operably connected, such as, for example, by being removably affixed between the vertical posts, which can allow a greater level of disassembly.

The attachment of the vertical posts 41 can be achieved by a variety of techniques and methods known in the art. In one embodiment, illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, the vertical posts can incorporate tubular rods having a size and/or diameter that are sufficiently larger than the size and/or diameter of the upright members. In this embodiment, the vertical posts 41 can slide over the top end 200, in telescoping fashion, and secure to the upright members 21. The upright members 21 and vertical posts 41 are fashioned with at least one, preferably a plurality of pre-drilled adjustment holes 24 that can be aligned. To adjust the clearance under the walkway, between the roof panels 80 and the floor panels 90, the vertical posts can be adjusted to any required height by moving them up or down relative to the upright members. Once the proper height is determined, the vertical posts and upright members can be coupled with the desired connection device, such as, for example, screws, bolts, pins or other temporary or removable connection device. In one embodiment, the height of the frame 60 can be adjusted to provide a walkway clearance 70 from approximately 6.0 ft. to approximately 10.0 ft. In a further embodiment, the height of the frame can be adjusted to provide a walkway clearance 70 from approximately 6.5 ft to approximately 9 ft.

In a further embodiment, the upright assembly 40 can incorporate one or more braces 43 on the interior side 150 of the upright assembly 40 between the vertical posts 41 and the upper cross-beam 42, as shown, for example, in FIGS. 7 and 14C. The braces 43 can provide support and structural stability to the upright assembly 40 and can be attached permanently or removably.

Once a series of frames 60 of appropriate width and height, have been positioned, for example, as shown in FIGS. 14C and 14D, they can be connected with one or more upper runners 50 and one or more lower runners 30. The one or more upper runners traverse perpendicularly between the top ends 200 of the upright assembly 40 of adjacent frames 60. The one or more lower runners 30 traverse perpendicularly between bottom ends 100 of the post base assemblies 20 of adjacent frames 60. In one embodiment, single upper runners 50 and lower runners 30 can be positioned end to end to connect the frames 60. But, in an alternative embodiment, multiple stacked runners can be used. FIGS. 7, 8, and 9 illustrate an embodiment utilizing two stacked upper runners 50. In a further embodiment, the stacked upper runners can be secured together utilizing one or more mid-span braces 54, an example of which is shown in FIGS. 9A and 10.

In an exemplified embodiment, the runners, 30, 50, can be connected to the vertical posts and the upright members utilizing any of a variety of devices and methods known in the art. For example, the runners can be bolted directly to the assemblies. But, in an alternative embodiment, brackets can be utilized to hold and secure the runners. As mentioned above, either single or multiple stacked runners can be utilized with the subject invention. Thus, the dimensions of the pre-engineered brackets can be determined by the number and configuration of the runners. In a further embodiment, the runners can be bolted to the side brackets.

FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment wherein one or more side brackets 45 are attached at the top end 200 of the exterior side 250 of a vertical post 41. Side brackets 45 can be attached utilizing standard devices and methods known in the art, including welds, bolts, screws, pins, and/or other techniques. In the embodiment exemplified herein, and shown in FIGS. 8A-8C, side brackets 45 are bolted in place to permit adjustability and ease of assembly or disassembly. In this embodiment, an upper runner 50 can be placed in the side bracket 45 such that the length of the upper runner is perpendicular to the exterior side 250 of the vertical post, as shown, for example, in FIGS. 8A, 8B and 14E. In a further embodiment, an upper runner 50 can be secured within the bracket and/or to the vertical post making use of any variety of devices and techniques known in the art

In a further embodiment, a side bracket 45 can be wider than the exterior side 250 of a vertical post 41, allowing access to at least a portion of one of the side bracket edges 46 when an upper runner 50 is positioned therein, such as shown, for example, in FIGS. 3 and 8B. And, in a further embodiment, shown in FIGS. 7 and 8B, for example, the side bracket edge 46 can be used to secure an upper runner 50 in the side bracket and, thus, against the vertical post 41.

Construction of longer walkways can require the use of multiple upper runners 50 and lower runners 30 to connect multiple frames 60. The ends of runners can be joined to form a uniform support for roof panels and floor panels, as will be discussed below. In one embodiment, the upper runners can be welded or otherwise permanently attached. In another embodiment, the runners can be joined with any of a multitude of brackets known in the art.

In a further alternative embodiment, the subject invention can make use of one or more joiner inserts 52 positioned between two runners to join the ends and provide support at the juncture. A joiner insert 52 can have a variety of configurations. In an embodiment, the joiner insert is an elongated structure that can be inserted into and between two tubes or pipes of the upper or lower runners. A joiner insert 52 can be secured within runners, and in one embodiment, it can be secured with one or more screws, nuts and bolts, or the like. FIG. 9A shows an embodiment of a joiner insert 52 utilized with upper runners 50 that comprise rectangular tubing. FIGS. 9B and 9C show alternative, but non-limiting, examples of joiner inserts that can be utilized with upper runners 50 of the subject invention.

The upper runners, once in place and secure, can provide support for roof panels 80 to be installed over the walkway. There are a variety of standard roof panels that can be utilized with the walkway of the subject invention. In one embodiment, standing seam metal roof panels, known in the art, can be installed across the upper runners of the subject invention. FIGS. 1, 7 and 14F illustrate examples of roof panels 80 positioned across upper runners 50 of a walkway. Roof panels 80 can be affixed to the upper runners 50 by a variety of techniques, such as techniques or apparatus known in the art. For example, standing seam metal roof panels are most often secured with screws to an underlying support. Thus, in an embodiment, utilizing metal roof panels, screws can be utilized to secure the roof panels 80 to the upper runners 50.

In a similar manner, lower runners 30 can be used to connect frames and provide support for floor panels. FIG. 11A shows embodiments of runner brackets 32 that can be used with the subject invention. These embodiments of a runner bracket 32 can be attached at or near the bottom end 200 of the interior side 250 of an upright member 21, for example as shown in FIGS. 11B and 11C. Similar to the side bracket discussed above, one or more runner brackets 32 can be attached utilizing standard devices and methods known in the art, including welds, bolts, screws, pins, and/or other techniques. In the embodiment exemplified herein, and shown in FIGS. 11B and 11C, runner brackets 32 are bolted in place to permit adjustability and ease of assembly or disassembly. In this embodiment, a lower runner 30 can be placed in the runner bracket 32 such that the length of the lower runner 32 is perpendicular to the interior side 150 of the frame 60, as shown in FIGS. 11B and 11C, and generally parallel with the upper runners 50. In a further embodiment, a lower runner 30 can be secured within a runner bracket 32 and/or to a vertical post making use of any variety of devices and techniques known in the art.

After securing the lower runners 30 in the runner brackets 32, floor panels 90 can then be secured to the lower runners. Floor panels utilized with the subject invention can incorporate a variety of materials known in the art. One example, shown in FIGS. 4B, 4C, 11B, and 11C incorporates standard corrugated metal decking 94 with a non-slip overlay 95, such as fiber cement board. In this embodiment, the corrugated metal decking can be secured to a lower runner 30 utilizing screws, bolts, and the like.

One advantage of the covered walkway system of the subject invention is the utilization of pre-engineered components that can be utilized to assemble a single walkway unit or a series of connected walkway units. The pre-engineered components can make the assembly process quick and more automatic, because assembly of the components is consistently the same. However, a further advantage of the walkway system of the subject invention is the ability to adapt construction to the surrounding terrain. Thus, whether a single unit or multiple attached units are assembled, the walkway is secure and uniform in construction, regardless of the ground that it traverses.

FIGS. 15A-I illustrate the assembly of an exemplary embodiment of the multi-unit walkway utilizing the pre-engineered components and procedures described above for the subject invention. It can be seen in this embodiment that the assembly process is initiated by positioning standard 16″×16″×1″ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) pads 124 on the terrain in the same or approximately the same positions where the post base assemblies 20 will be located. In this embodiment, each post base assembly pair 125 will have a width of approximately 7 feet or less and each post base assembly pair 125 can have a running distance 126 between them of approximately 14 feet, or less, as seen in FIG. 15A. Upright members 21 can then be positioned through the ABS pads and driven to a depth of approximately 24 inches, as seen in FIG. 15B, to form a post base assembly 20.

As described above, the tie-down assembly 25 in this embodiment comprises one or more duckbill anchors, known to those with skill in the art, as seen in FIG. 15C, to secure each post-base assembly 20 to the ground. The anchor line from a duckbill anchor can be extended and secured through the center each upright member 21, as shown in FIG. 15C, utilizing a threaded tightening rod 29 with a tension plate 29A. The duckbill anchors can be driven to a sufficient depth into the ground or other terrain and the anchor line attached thereto can traverse through the center of the upright member. In this exemplary embodiment, the duckbill anchors are driven to a minimum depth of approximately 42″.

Once the post base assemblies have been secured, an upright assembly 40 can be positioned over each post base assembly pair 125 and secured thereto at the appropriate height. The combined upright assembly 40 and post base assembly pair 125 form a complete frame 60, as shown, for example, in FIG. 15D, to which can be attached all other components. In continuing the assembly, FIG. 15E illustrates runner brackets 32 affixed to the frame 60, as described previously, for attaching lower runners 30 between each frame, as shown in FIG. 15F.

After placing and securing the lower runners 30 between each frame 60, multiple floor panels 90 can be perpendicularly positioned over the lower runners 30, as seen, by way of example, in FIG. 15G. Depending upon the type of floor panels utilized with the subject invention, it can be desirable to cover the exposed ends that are visible from the side of the walkway. For example, FIGS. 15G-I illustrate an embodiment utilizing interlocking fiberglass walkway panels. In this embodiment, the corrugation supports 92 of the floor panels 90 are visible at the exposed side ends. Under some circumstances, this can be considered unsightly or even hazardous. To hide the exposed side ends and provide a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, elongated trim angles 57 can be utilized to cover the side ends. In one embodiment, trim angles 57 are elongated, generally right angled brackets wherein one side is sufficiently long enough to cover the sides of at least two, preferably more than two, floor panels. FIG. 15I illustrates an embodiment of this type of trim angle wherein one side of the bracket is placed against the top side of the floor panel and the other side of the bracket is flush with or at least against the exposed side of the floor panel. In a further embodiment, the trim angle can be removably attached to at least one floor panel. In a specific embodiment, the trim angle is removably attached to multiple floor panels, which ensures the stability of the trim angle and provides additional stability to the floor panels.

In a further embodiment, one or more mid-span supports 55, as shown, for example, in FIG. 15F, can be utilized to prop-up a lower runner. In one embodiment, at least one mid-span support is utilized in operable connection at or about the center of a lower runner 30 to prevent sagging. In a further embodiment, two or more mid-span supports are utilized at multiple positions along the length of a lower runner to prevent sagging at any point. A mid-span support 55 can be any of a variety of devices capable of supporting a lower runner. In one embodiment, a mid-span support 55 includes an enlarged base 56 for ground support. In a further embodiment, the height of the mid-span support can be adjusted, by techniques known to those with skill in the art and by methods disclosed herein. This can allow a mid-span support to be adjusted during assembly of a walkway and later, if desired, to compensate for settling or altering of the underlying terrain. A mid-span support 55 can be either fixedly or removably attached to a lower runner 30 by a variety of methods. In one embodiment, a mid-span support is positioned below the lower runner and held in place by compression between the lower runner 30 and the ground. In an alternative embodiment, a mid-span support 55 is attached to a runner utilizing screws or bolts.

The final steps in the assembly process usually pertain to the attachment of a roof or covering over the walkway. To facilitate the attachment of roof panels, side brackets 45 can be attached at or near the top end 200 of the exterior side 250 of a vertical post 41, seen, for example, in FIG. 15H. The side brackets 45 are utilized, as detailed above, for positioning and attaching upper runners 50 between each frame 60, as seen in FIG. 15I. Once the upper runners 50 are secured, any of a variety of pre-fabricated roofing panels can be perpendicularly positioned between the upper runners 50.

Usually, walkways are a means for connecting two structures, such as buildings, with a convenient, easily traversed path. Embodiments of the walkway of the subject invention can provide a system of pre-engineered components that can be assembled, disassembled, and/or reassembled quickly over almost any terrain. Advantageously, the pre-engineered components can be adjusted to accommodate a variety of landscapes and variable terrain. However, in certain circumstances additional components may be necessary for support, leveling, safety, and similar factors. Thus, several additional pre-engineered components will be described that can be easily incorporated with the components of the walkway to accommodate more difficult terrain and/or provide additional safety to person(s) on the walkway.

FIG. 12A shows an embodiment of an adjustable leveling assembly 97 and FIG. 12B illustrates how it can be used with embodiments of the subject invention to provide additional support to floor panels. It can be seen in FIG. 12B that one or more leveling assemblies 97 can be positioned in operable connection anywhere under the floor panels, often at a mid-span position. Once properly located under and in operable connection with a floor panel, leveling assemblies 97 can be adjusted and secured to the appropriate height to level the floor panels.

Walkways are usually constructed so as to be as close as possible to the doors and openings of buildings and structures, for full protection from the elements. In certain situations it is possible to abut the walkway flush with the building. A person with skill in the art would know techniques and devices for securing and sealing a walkway against a structure.

In other situations, it may be preferable to utilize an awning system 82 with embodiments of the walkway. FIG. 13A illustrates one embodiment whereby an awning system can be attached against a structure, so that it overhangs the end of a walkway of the subject invention. In a further embodiment, an awning support bracket 84 shown, for example, in FIG. 13B can be used to support the awning overhang portion against a roof panel 80 of the walkway. In a further embodiment, the awning support bracket 84 comprises a telescoping post 85 that allows it be adjustable.

Numerous other accessories and hardware can be employed with the walkway of the subject invention. A person with skill in the art would be able to adapt railings, lighting fixtures, security devices and a multitude of other devices for use with the walkways system of the subject invention. In view of the above disclosure, such modifications would be considered obvious and within the scope of the subject invention.

All patents, patent applications, provisional applications, and publications referred to or cited herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety, including all figures and tables, to the extent they are not inconsistent with the explicit teachings of this specification.

It should be understood that the examples and embodiments described herein are for illustrative purposes only and that various modifications or changes in light thereof will be suggested to persons skilled in the art and are to be included within the spirit and purview of this application.

The invention has been described herein in considerable detail, in order to comply with the Patent Statutes and to provide those skilled in the art with information needed to apply the novel principles, and to construct and use such specialized components as are required. However, it is to be understood that the invention can be carried out by specifically different equipment and devices, and that various modification, both as to equipment details and operating procedures can be effected without departing from the scope of the invention itself. Further, it should be understood that, although the present invention has been described with reference to specific details of certain embodiments thereof, it is not intended that such details should be regarded as limitations upon the scope of the invention except as and to the extent that they are included in the accompanying claims.





 
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