Title:
Boat Seat Mounting Assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat mounting assembly is provided for attachment to a transverse bench-style seat of a fishing or Jon-type boat. The seat mounting assembly is quickly and easily attached to the bench-style seat such that the seat mounting assembly allows a seat attached thereto to, both, slide longitudinally to the transverse bench seat and be selectively locked into place, such that the seat cannot move relative to the transverse bench. The unique interface of the base and the rails of the seat mounting assembly helps ensure that the seat mounting assembly will not tip relative to the bench-style seat, while the low profile design of the seat mounting assembly helps keep that center of gravity of a boat to which the seat mounting assembly is installed substantially unchanged.



Inventors:
Nicholas, Brian Robert (Big Bend, WI, US)
Plockelman, Michael Todd (Waukesha, WI, US)
Application Number:
12/123630
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/20/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ERIC. D. BUBLITZ (Franklin, WI, US)
Claims:
1. A low-profile seat mounting assembly for use with a boat having a bench seat that spans a space that exists between a pair of side walls, wherein the bench seat includes a top panel, the seat mounting assembly comprising: a first elongate rail configured to be mounted to the top panel; a second elongate rail configured to be mounted to the top panel in a spaced apart and substantially parallel relationship with the first elongate rail; a seat base slidingly engaged with the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail such that the seat base spans the space between the two rails; and a locking mechanism for selectively locking the seat base into position relative to at least one of the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail.

2. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail are substantially identical.

3. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail each have an upper surface and a lower surface, wherein a width of the upper surface is larger than a width of the lower surface for at least one of the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail.

4. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail both include a plurality of mounting holes for mounting the rails to the top panel.

5. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the seat base includes a first positioning hole.

6. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 5, wherein the first elongate rail includes a plurality of second positioning holes.

7. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 6, wherein the locking mechanism locks the seat base into position relative the first elongate rail by insertion of the locking mechanism through the first positioning hole and one of the plurality of second positioning holes.

8. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the profile of the seat mounting assembly is less than one inch.

9. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first rail and the second rail are adapted to extend substantially the entire space between the pair of side walls.

10. The low-profile seat mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein a lower surface of the seat base is substantially parallel to and spaced apart from a lower surface of one of the first rail and the second rail.

11. A method of using a low-profile seat mounting assembly in a boat that includes a transverse, bench-style seat and two boat side walls, wherein the low-profile seat mounting assembly includes a seat base that slidingly engages a first elongate rail and a second elongate rail, the method comprising: attaching the first elongate rail to a top panel of the bench-style seat; attaching the second elongate rail to the top panel of the bench-style seat; sliding the seat base to a desired position along the first and second elongate rails; and locking the seat base into position relative to at least one of the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail, such that the seat base remains substantially fixed relative to the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein attaching the first elongate rail to the top panel is done so that the first elongate rail is substantially perpendicular to the boat side walls.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein locking the seat base into position relative to at least one of the first elongate rail and the second elongate rail is done by inserting a shaft through a pair of substantially coaxial holes.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The subject invention generally pertains to a seat mounting assembly adapted to be mounted to a transverse bench-style seat of a fishing or Jon-type boat, such that the seat mounting assembly allows a seat attached thereto to slide longitudinally relative to the transverse bench seat and be selectively locked into place such that the seat cannot move relative to the transverse bench.

BACKGROUND OF RELATED ART

Many fishing and Jon-type boats are factory-equipped with backless, bench-style seats that are uncomfortable and are permanently fixed in place, giving the user little flexibility when it comes to seating. Consequently, some fishermen have added more comfortable and functional seats to their fishing boats.

There are a variety of seat clamp assemblies available for attaching a more comfortable, backed fisherman's seat and associated swivel mechanism to a fishing or Jon-type boat. One option is to simply attach the more comfortable fisherman's seat, with or without a swivel-type base, to the existing bench-style seat. While this option provides a more comfortable seat, the seat is fixed relative to the bench-style seat (it cannot slide longitudinally relative to the bench-style seat). It may be desirable to move the attached fisherman's seat longitudinally along the bench-style seat to put the fisherman's seat in a more comfortable position for operating the motor or fishing or hunting on a particular side of the boat.

An alternative to simply attaching a fisherman's seat to a transverse bench-style seat is the seat clamp assembly disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,718,365, which shows a seat attachment assembly that is detachably secured to the sides of a boat, such that the seat rests above the height of the boat. Although such an assembly does offer certain improvements over factory-installed bench seats, it has numerous drawbacks.

First, because the seat rests so high relative to the boat (above the sides of the boat), it raises the center of gravity of the boat, thereby making the boat less stable in the water and more likely to capsize. Second, because the seat attachment assembly is attached to the sides of the boat, there is nothing to support the area under the seat (and the fisherman), creating a potentially hazardous situation should one of the rails or attachment screws fail. There is no structure of any substance for supporting the combined weight of the seat and the fisherman, putting tremendous stress on the rails and attachment screws. Third, the seat attachment assembly is only secured to the sides of the boat via set screws that do not extend into or through the boat itself, leaving opportunity for the screw and seat attachment assembly to slip out of engagement with the boat. Finally, there is no provision for locking the seat base (and attached seat) into place relative to the rails, which means that the seat base (and attached seat) can slide side-to-side while in use if the boat shifts or rocks in the water, thereby creating an unsafe condition.

Another seat clamp assembly is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,709,648, which shows a seat attachment assembly that includes a single rod on which a seat bracket can both slide and rotate. The single rod is fixedly attached to a lateral face of the factory-installed bench seat, such that when a seat is attached to the seat bracket, the seat can slide along the rod and move longitudinally relative to the bench seat. The rod also serves as an axis of rotation, allowing the seat to be rotated between an operative and an inoperative position. The seat clamp assembly of U.S. Pat. No. 4,709,648 offers limited improvements over factory-installed bench seats, but it also has numerous drawbacks.

First, there is no provision for locking the seat of U.S. Pat. No. 4,709,648 into place relative to the rod, which means that the seat can slide side-to-side (longitudinally along the bench seat) while in use if the boat shifts or rocks in the water, thereby creating an unsafe condition. Second, the back portion of the seat base, or attached seat, is not secured to the boat or bench seat, which means that the seat can flip forward about the rod. If a user is sitting in the seat and the boat stops suddenly or slows quickly, the seat could flip forward and eject the user from the seat—an obviously unsafe, undesirable phenomenon. Furthermore, the seat can swivel, which means that if a user swivels the seat one hundred eighty degrees to face backwards in the boat, the user could flip the seat over by simply leaning backwards in the seat—another unsafe, undesirable occurrence. Third, the seat base rests directly on the top panel of the bench seat such that friction between the top panel and the seat base may make the seat and seat base difficult to slide. In addition, this sliding movement may scrape, scratch, or otherwise damage the top panel of the bench seat. Finally, many transverse bench-style seats do not have front and back panels situated below and perpendicular to the top panel. Many seats are simply a flat, relatively thin member (a piece of wood or metal) extending across the sides of the boat with no structure underneath them. Seat clamp assembly of U.S. Pat. No. 4,709,648 must be attached to a front or back panel and would not work for the many boats with a piece of relatively thin wood or metal as its transverse bench-style seat.

Yet another seat clamp assembly for use with a bench seat of a boat is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,432,525, which shows a complicated assembly intended to allow an attached seat to move longitudinally along the transverse bench seat. The disclosed seat clamp assembly includes a wheeled carriage, springs, and threaded rods, among other components, making the assembly quite complex and bulky. Because of all the components included in the assembly, a seat attached thereto sits very high relative to the boat, which, when sat on, alters the center of gravity of the boat and makes it more unstable in the water. Furthermore, the large number of parts included in the seat clamp assembly makes it difficult to assemble and increases the likelihood that that the assembly will not function as intended.

A final seat clamp assembly is manufactured by Action Products Company and sold under the trade name “Release-A-Seat” (Model Number 5498 or 5498L). Other companies, such as Wise, Swivl-Eze, and Springfield Marine Company, may also manufacture and distribute a seat clamp assembly that is substantially identical to that sold under the “Release-A-Seat” trade name. Given the substantial identity between this variety of seat clamp assemblies, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the weaknesses and drawbacks of the “Release-A-Seat,” as discussed in the following paragraph, apply to these substantially identical seat clamp assemblies, as well.

As the name implies, a primary goal of the “Release-A-Seat” seat clamp assembly is that the seat base and attached seat be quick and easy to remove from the boat. Because the seat base and attached seat is removed at one of the two ends of the seat clamp assembly, a substantial gap must exist between the two ends of the seat clamp assembly and the two side walls of the boat. As such, the seat clamp assembly cannot span a substantial portion of the space between the boat's side walls, which results in limited travel of the seat base and attached seat. Also, the rear edge of the “Release-A-Seat” seat base directly contacts and slides on the top panel of the bench, and the friction that results from this contact may make seat base and attached seat difficult to slide and may scratch, scrape, or otherwise damage the top panel. Furthermore, the “Release-A-Seat” provides no means for positively locking the seat base (and attached seat) into place, which means that they can slide side-to-side while in use, if the boat shifts or rocks in the water. Finally, a portion of a front rail hangs over the front edge of the top panel, which forces the seat to be positioned near the front edge of the bench seat, instead of at the center on the bench seat. Of course, the most safe and stable position for an after-market seat is at, or near, the center of the factory-installed bench seat.

Due to the weaknesses and deficiencies inherent with existing seat clamp assemblies, a need exists for a seat clamp assembly that overcomes the limitations and drawbacks of existing systems.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a typical lightweight fishing or Jon-type boat with a seat mounting assembly operatively installed on one of the transverse, bench-style seats of the boat.

FIG. 2 is fragmentary perspective view of the seat mounting assembly.

FIG. 3 is a top view of the seat mounting assembly.

FIG. 4 is a sectional profile view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIGS. 1-4 show a seat mounting assembly 12 for use with a fishing or Jon-type boat 2. Seat mounting assembly 12 is adapted to be secured directly to a top panel 8 of a transverse, bench-style seat 6 that is typically factory-installed in boat 2. As shown in FIG. 1, factory-installed, bench-style seat 6 is typically a simple, boxy seat that extends between side walls 4a and 4b of boat 2. Although bench-style seat 6 is functional, it is also uncomfortable and offers little positioning flexibility for boaters.

Seat mounting assembly 12 comprises a first rail 14, a second rail 16, a seat base 18, and a locking mechanism 30. A first channel, or groove, 36 is formed in a lower surface of seat base 18 such that first rail 14 can be inserted into first channel 36. Clearance exists between first channel 36 and first rail 14 such that seat base 18 can slide relative to first rail 14. Similarly, a second channel, or groove, 38 is formed in the lower surface of seat base 18 substantially parallel to first channel 36, such that second rail 16 can be inserted into second channel 38. Again, clearance exists between second channel 38 and second rail 16 such that seat base 18 can slide relative to second rail 16. Because channels 36 and 38 are substantially parallel, they force rails 14 and 16 to have a substantially parallel relationship, which, coupled with the clearance that exists between the channels and the rails, enables seat base 18 to slide freely along rails 14 and 16.

The cross-sectional geometry of first channel 36 and the cross-sectional geometry of second channel 38 are substantially identical. Furthermore, the cross-sectional geometry of first rail 14 and the cross-sectional geometry of second rail 16 are substantially identical. As such, first rail 14 can be interchanged with second rail 16 and seat base 18 will still be able to slide along the length of the rails. This relationship is shown clearly in the cross-sectional end view of FIG. 4.

The unique geometry of rails 14 and 16 and corresponding mating channels 36 and 38 prevent seat base 18 from pulling out of rails 14 and 16. As shown in FIG. 4, width, w1, of the upper surface of second rail 16 is greater than width, w2, of the lower surface of second rail 16. The same is true of first rail 14 and of corresponding mating channels 38 and 36. This relationship prevents base 18 from pulling out of rails 14 and 16, no matter how a user shifts his weight in seat 10 or otherwise leans on seat 10. No matter how forces that may tend to tip seat 10 (attached to seat base 18) are applied to the seat, seat base 18 will not pull out, or tip off of, rails 14 and 16, which are securely fastened to top panel 8 of bench-style seat 6.

Also shown in FIG. 4 is the low profile of seat mount assembly 12. Put differently, seat mount assembly 12 has a very low height, or thickness, which is advantageous because seat assembly 12 will raise the center of gravity of boat 2, in which the seat mount assembly is mounted, only very minimally. Seat base 18 and rails 14 and 16 are all preferably made of approximately one-half inch thick aluminum, giving seat mount assembly an overall height, or thickness, of only approximately three-quarters of an inch. Although the components of seat mount assembly 12 may be comprised of materials other than aluminum (such as plastic, composite, or other metals), aluminum is the preferred material of manufacture because of its combination of low weight, and corrosion resistance. The light weight and low profile of seat mount assembly 12 enable seat mount assembly 12 to minimally alter the center of gravity of boat 2, allowing the boat to remain stable and unlikely to capsize.

Also shown clearly in FIG. 4 is that seat base 18 would be spaced apart from top panel 8 to which seat mount assembly 12 is to be attached. When seat mount assembly 12 is installed in boat 2, a bottom surface of rails 14 and 16 will be in direct contact with top panel 8. Rails 14 and 16 will then keep a bottom surface of seat base 18 elevated above top panel 8, such that seat base 18 does not contact top panel 8. This relationship between seat base 18 and top panel 8 ensures that no friction exists between the two components, allowing seat base 18 to slide freely and easily along rails 14 and 16. Furthermore, because seat base 18 does not contact top panel 8, it will not scratch, scrape, or otherwise damage the top panel.

First rail 14 and second rail 16 include a plurality of rail mounting holes 20 for purposes of attaching the rails (and the seat mounting assembly) to top panel 8 of bench-style seat 6. With seat mounting assembly 12 positioned on top panel 8 such that first rail 14 and second rail 16 are substantially perpendicular to sides 4a and 4b of boat 2, as shown in FIG. 1, a plurality of screws 28, which are preferably standard sheet metal screws, is inserted through rail mounting holes 20 and driven into top panel 8. Once the plurality of screws 28 is tightened in place, first rail 14 and second rail 16 will be held securely to top panel 8 such that the rails will not move relative to top panel 8. The plurality of rail mounting holes 20 is preferably countersunk, as shown in FIG. 4, so that the heads of screws 28 will be recessed and will not interfere with the sliding movement of seat base 18 along rails 14 and 16.

Because seat mount assembly 12 is attached to top panel 8 of bench-style seat 6 only by plurality of screws 28 and most consumers are skilled enough to install several standard machine screws, installation of seat mount assembly 12 is extremely quick and easy. Furthermore, direct attachment of seat mount assembly 12 to top panel 8 enables seat mount assembly 12 to be used with any bench-style seat, including enclosed seats with lower front and back panels, as shown in FIG. 1, and open seats that may comprise a simple board or piece of metal extending across the two boat side walls (with no structure below it). Even though not all bench-style seats have front and back lower panels, all bench-style seats have a top panel. The current seat mount assembly capitalizes on this consistency. Finally, seat mount assembly 12 can also be used with split bench-style seats, as rails 14 and 16 can span any gap that may exist. Seat mount assembly 12 gives a user a tremendous amount of flexibility when it comes to after-market seating.

First rail 14 and second rail 16 are secured directly to top panel 8 and because seat mount assembly 12 has a low profile, when installed in boat 2 seat mount assembly 12 is extremely stable. The combined weight of seat mount assembly 12, seat 10 (attached to seat mount assembly 12), and an operator sitting on seat 10 will be transmitted substantially directly to bench seat 6. Furthermore, because first rail 14 and second rail 16 are fastened directly to top panel 8 of bench seat 6, first and second rail, 14 and 16 respectively, will not bend or bow under the combined weight of seat 10 and an operator sitting on seat 10. In addition, direct attachment of first rail 14 and second rail 16 to top panel 8 adds strength to top panel 8 and bench seat 6.

Seat base 18 also includes a plurality of seat mounting holes 26 for purposes of mounting a fishing seat 10 or an intermediate member. It is known in the art to attach fishing seat 10 to a base member via bolts, nuts, or other available fasteners. It is also known in the art to attach intermediate members (not shown, but members between a base member and a seat) to a base member, wherein those intermediate members can include a swivel base, a quick release mechanism, or a combination thereof. These known intermediate members make traditional fishing seat 10 more useful and are typically attached to a base member via bolts, nuts, or other known fasteners.

Seat base 18 includes an extension tab 40 on which a first positioning hole 24 is located. Extension tab 40 projects off of one side of seat base 18 so that a first positioning hole 24 can still be accessed even when seat 10 is affixed to seat base 18.

First rail 14 includes a plurality of second positioning holes 22 for locking seat base 18 into position relative to rail 14, so that the base can no longer slide relative to rail 14. Once first positioning hole 24 is aligned with one of the plurality of second positioning holes 22 (such that the holes are coaxial), a locking mechanism 30 may be inserted through the coaxial holes, thereby preventing base seat 18 from sliding along first rail 14. Locking mechanism 30 preferably includes a shaft 34 for insertion into positioning holes 24 and 22 and an upper gripping portion 32 adapted to be grasped by hand to remove or insert locking mechanism 30. Although only first rail 14 is shown with a plurality of second positioning holes 22, second rail 16 may also include plurality of second positioning holes 22, thereby making first rail 14 and second rail 16 identical, potentially simplifying their manufacture.

Locking mechanism 30 is shown in FIG. 2 as a loose component for illustrative purposes, but it may be desirable for locking mechanism 30 to be attached to seat mount assembly 12. This attachment means could be as simple as tethering locking mechanism 30 to seat base 18, first rail 14, or second rail 16 via a short cable or chain. Or, preferably, locking mechanism 30 is a standard, commercially available pop-pin, with an outer sleeve welded or otherwise attached to seat base 18 in the vicinity of first positioning hole 24. A pop-pin also enables shaft 34 and gripping portion 32 to be spring-biased downward toward a locked position, making positioning and locking seat base 18 into place a very easy process.

Once seat mount assembly 12 is installed in boat 2, and seat 10 is attached to seat base 18, seat mount assembly 12 is extremely easy to use. A user slides seat 10 along a longitudinal axis of bench seat 6, wherein the longitudinal axis is substantially perpendicular to side walls 4a and 4b of boat 2. In some instances the user may wish to sit near side of boat 4a, while in other instances the user may wish to sit near side of boat 4b, and in yet other instances the user may wish to sit in the center of the boat, depending on what activity the user is doing (e.g., operating a boat motor, fishing, hunting). Seat mount assembly 12 makes it easy for a user to position seat 10 in any of these positions, as the user can simply slide base 18 (and attached seat 10) along rails 14 and 16, until seat 10 is in a desired position. Furthermore, because rails 14 and 16 are adapted to span substantially the entire space between boat side walls 4a and 4b, seat 10 and seat base 18 can travel a great distance, providing maximum positioning flexibility.

Once seat 10 is in the desired position, the user will make a final, fine adjustment to align first positioning hole 24 with one of plurality of second positioning holes 22 and will then insert locking mechanism 30 into the aligned positioning holes, thereby locking base 18 and attached seat 10 into place. With seat 10 and seat base 18 locked into place, they cannot slide relative to rails 14 and 16, and seat 10 is safe to use.

To move seat 10 into a different position, locking mechanism 30 is simply withdrawn from positioning holes 24 and 22, allowing seat base 18 (and attached seat 10) to slide freely along rails 14 and 16. Once seat base 18 and seat 10 are in a new desired position, locking mechanism 10 is reinserted through first positioning hole 24 and another of the plurality of second positioning holes 22, thereby locking seat base 18 and seat 10 into the new desired position.

Although the invention is described with respect to a preferred embodiment, modifications thereto will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. The scope of the invention, therefore, is to be determined by reference to the following claims: