Title:
System to construct fence
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for constructing a fence utilizes foam panels that are coated with a cementitious material and that include rebar feet that extend outwardly from the bottom of the panel. During construction of the fence the rebar feet are inserted in a wet concrete footer.



Inventors:
Alter, Patrick T. (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/156471
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
05/30/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
DEMUREN, BABAJIDE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TOD R NISSLE (PHOENIX, AZ, US)
Claims:
1. A system to construct a fence, comprising the steps of (a) providing an H-shaped foam support column having (i) a pair of vertically extending, spaced apart, exterior U-shaped receiving slots, (ii) a top, (iii) sides, (iii) a bottom, and (iv) at least a first rebar including a first upper portion embedded in said foam support column and a first lower portion extending outwardly from said bottom of said foam support; (b) providing an orthgonal foam panel having (i) an upper edge, (ii) a lower edge spaced apart from and generally parallel to said upper edge, (iii) a first side edge generally normal to said upper and lower edges, (iv) a second side edge spaced apart from said first side edge and generally normal to said upper and lower edges, (v) a pair of spaced apart generally parallel faces bounded by said upper edge, lower edge, first side edge, and second side edge, and (vi) at least a second rebar including a second upper portion embedded in said foam panel and a second lower portion extending outwardly from said lower edge of said foam panel; (c) coating at least said sides and top of said H-shaped foam support column with a cementitious material to produce a ready-to-install fence support column; (d) coating at least said faces and said top and side edges of said orthgonal foam panel with a cementitious material to produce a ready-to-install fence panel; (e) transporting said ready-to-install fence support column and said ready-to-install fence panel to a construction site; (f) excavating a footer trench at a selected location at said construction site; (g) pouring wet concrete into said footer trench; (h) installing said fence support column by pressing said first lower portion into said wet concrete until said bottom of said support column contacts said wet concrete; and, (i) installing said fence panel by sliding one of said first and second side edges of said fence panel into and down one of said exterior U-shaped receiving slots of said fence support column to press said second lower portion into said wet concrete until said lower edge contacts said wet concrete.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein said orthgonal foam panel is constructed by (a) providing at least first and second foam members; (b) forming at least one groove in at least said first foam member to receive said upper portion of said second rebar; (d) inserting said upper portion of said second rebar in said groove; and (e) connecting said second foam member to said first foam member to (I) cover said groove and said upper portion of said second rebar, (ii) sandwich said upper portion of said second rebar between said first and second foam members; and (iii) permit said lower portion of said second rebar to extend outwardly from said first and second foam members.

Description:

This invention pertains to fencing and methods to construct the same.

A principal object and motivation of the instant invention is to provide a system to construct a fence. This general motivation has long existed and has produced a variety of patented and other systems to construct a fence. As discussed below, the trends, problems, motivations, etc. associated with such designs did not provide any significant impetus toward the development of the invention.

This and other, further and more specific objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description thereof, taken in conjunction with the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded view illustrating in part the fence construction system of the invention; and,

FIG. 2 is an assembly view further illustrating the system of the invention.

Briefly, in accordance with the invention, I provide an improved system to construct a fence. The system includes the step of providing an H-shaped foam support column having a pair of vertically extending, spaced apart, exterior U-shaped receiving slots; a top; sides; a bottom; and, at least a first rebar including a first upper portion embedded in the foam support and a first lower portion extending outwardly from the bottom of the foam support. The system also includes the step of providing an orthgonal foam panel having an upper edge; a lower edge spaced apart from and generally parallel to the upper edge; a first side edge generally normal to the upper and lower edges; a second side edge spaced apart from the first side edge and generally normal to the upper and lower edges; a pair of spaced apart generally parallel faces bounded by the upper edge, lower edge, first side edge, and second side edge; and, at least a second rebar including a second upper portion embedded in the foam panel and a second lower portion extending outwardly from the lower edge of the foam panel. The system also includes the steps of coating at least the sides and top of said H-shaped foam support column with a cementitious material to produce a ready-to-install fence support column; coating at least the faces and the top and side edges of the orthgonal foam panel with a cementitious material to produce a ready-to-install fence panel; transporting the ready-to-install fence support column and the ready-to-install fence panel to a construction site; excavating a footer trench at a selected location at the construction site; pouring wet concrete into the footer trench; installing the fence support column by pressing the first lower portion into the wet concrete until the bottom of the support column contacts the wet concrete; and, installing the fence panel by sliding one of the first and second side edges of the fence panel into and down one of the exterior U-shaped receiving slots of the fence support column to press the second lower portion into the wet concrete until the lower edge contacts the wet concrete. The orthogonal foam panel can be constructed by providing at least first and second foam members; forming at least one groove in at least the first foam member to receive the upper portion of the second rebar; and, inserting the upper portion of the second rebar in the groove; and connecting the second foam member to the first foam member to cover the groove and the upper portion of the second rebar, sandwich the upper portion of the second rebar between the first and second foam members, and permit the lower portion of the second rebar to extend outwardly from the first and second foam members.

Turning now to the drawings, which depict the presently preferred embodiments of the invention for the purpose of illustrating the practice thereof and not by way of limitation of the scope of the invention, and in which like reference characters refer to corresponding elements throughout the several views, FIG. 1 illustrates the presently preferred process for constructing a foam panel utilized in the system of the invention. STYROFOAM™ polystyrene plastic pieces 10 and 20, or pieces fabricated from some other desired foam material (preferably a lightweight foam material), are provided. Piece 10 preferably, but not necessarily, has a shape and dimension equivalent to that of piece 20. The shape and dimension of pieces 10 and 20 can vary as desired, but the orthogonal configuration depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 is presently preferred. A groove pattern 11 is cut or otherwise formed on the inner face of piece 10. Pattern 11 is shaped and dimensioned to receive and seat the lower half of a rebar lattice 12. A similar groove pattern 21 is formed on the inner face of piece 20 that opposes pattern 11. Groove pattern 21 has a shape and dimension equivalent to that of pattern 11 such that when the inner face of piece 20 is glued or otherwise fastened to the inner face of piece 10 and is in registration with piece 10, grove pattern 21 is in registration with groove pattern 11 and the upper half of lattice 12 seats in groove pattern 21. If desired, the groove pattern can be formed on the inner face of only one of pieces 10 and 20.

Lattice 12 is shaped and dimensioned such that when pieces 10 and 20 are attached in this way, feet 13, 14, 15 extend outwardly from pieces 10 and 20 in the manner illustrated in FIG. 2. Lattice 12 includes at least one piece of rebar. The manufacture of lattice 12 typically requires that straight pieces of rebar be spaced apart and laid over one another in a pattern similar to that shown in FIG. 1. The pieces of rebar are then wired or welded together at the points at which pieces of rebar intersect. Such a production method is time consuming and labor intensive. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, each foam support member 18 and/or orthogonal foam panel 28 includes at least one U-shaped piece 50 (FIG. 2) of rebar with feet 13, 15. Two or more different sized U-shaped pieces 50, 51 of rebar (FIG. 2) can be utilized in a foam panel 28 such that one U-shaped piece of rebar is nested in and spaced apart from another U-shaped piece of rebar to produce four or more feet 13, 52, 53, 15 extending outwarding from panel 28. Or a generally U-shaped piece of rebar can be utilized that includes only a single foot 13, 15 that extends outwardly from panel 28, i.e., one end of the rebar is contained completely within panel 28. The utilization of U-shaped pieces of rebar significantly simplifies the production of rebar members utilized in a penl 28.

When pieces 10 and 20 are attached to one another with lattice 12 sandwiched therebetween an orthogonal foam panel 28 is produced.

A pair of foam pieces which have a generally T-shaped cross section and have an equal shape and dimension can, in a manner similar to that of pieces 10 and 20, be provided to form a foam support member which has rebar seated therein and which has a generally H-shaped cross section. A groove pattern is formed on the inner face of each T-shaped foam piece such that when the inner faces are glued together to form seam 71 (FIG. 2), the groove pattern in one piece is in registration with the groove pattern in the other piece and the rebar is seated in the groove patterns such that feet 16 and 17 (FIG. 2) extend outwardly from the pieces attached pair of T-shaped foam pieces.

Any other desired method can be utilized to form an orthogonal foam member or a foam support member. For example, rebar can be pushed into an existing unitary orthogonal foam members or pushed into an existing foam support member that has a generally H-shaped cross section. Or, rebar can be position in a mold while an orthogonal foam member is formed in the mold and extends around at least a portion of the rebar.

After an orthogonal foam member and foam support member are formed, they are coated with a cementitious material to produce an orthogonal foam panel 28 and foam support column 18, respectively. The cementitious material can cover the entire outer surface of panel 28 and column 18, or, can only cover selected surfaces of an orthogonal foam member. or a foam support member. The cementitious material, for example stucco, preferably covers all of the outer surfaces of the foam support member of orthogonal foam member to form column 18 or panel 28, respectively.

In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the cementitious material is applied directly to the outer surfaces of the orthogonal foam member and foam support member without first preparing the outer surface by applying chicken wire or other support materials. One cementitious matter preferred in this embodiment of the invention is Fossil Crete™ produced by Fossil Crete of 3750 Indian School road, Phoenix, Ariz. 85019. This material is preferred because it forms a strong adherent coating without requiring chicken wire and without requiring the application of a thick coating.

In FIG. 2, the H-shaped foam support column 18 includes a pair of vertically extending, spaced apart, exterior U-shaped receiving slots 33 and 36, a top 38, front side 30, rear side 31, left hand sides 32 and 34, right hand sides 35 and 37, bottom 39, and a pair of rebar embedded in column 18. Each rebar includes a first upper portion (not visible) embedded in the column 18 and includes a first lower portion (i.e., a foot) 16 or 17 extending outwardly from the bottom 39. Each slot 33 and 36 of column 18 is shaped and dimensioned to slidably receive and support a side edge 44 and 45 of panel 28.

In FIG. 2, the orthogonal foam panel 28 includes upper edge 42, lower edge 43 spaced apart from and generally parallel to upper edge 42, first side edge 44 generally normal to the upper and lower edges 42 and 43, second side edge 45 spaced apart from the first side edge 44 and generally normal to the upper and lower edges 42 and 43, front face 40, and back face 41. Face 41 is spaced apart from and generally parallel to front face 40. Faces 40 and 41 are bounded by upper and lower edges 41 and 43 and by side edges 44 and 45. Feet 13, 14 15 of the rebar lattice 12 extend outwardly from lower edge 43.

In the system of the invention, after one or more each of panel 28 and column 18 are constructed or otherwise provided, the panel 28 and column 18 are transported to a selected construction site. A footer trench is excavated in the ground 20. If desired, two-by-four or other supports can be staked into the ground along the parallel, spaced apart edges of the trench to provide support for concrete that is poured in the trench. Concrete is poured in the trench to form the footer 19. The depth of the concrete along the length of the trench preferably, but not necessarily, is equivalent to the length of feet 13 to 17. Column 18 is installed by displacing column 18 downwardly toward the footer 19 such that feet 16 and 17 are pushed into the footer and bottom 39 contacts footer 19. If desired, bottom 39 can be pressed a selected distance into the wet concrete. A level is utilized to insure that the longitudinal vertical axis of column 18 is normal to the ground, and, if necessary, the orientation of column 18 is adjusted to a position in which column 18 is normal to the ground. Side edge 44 of panel 28 is slid laterally (in a direction of travel parallel to ground 20) into U-shaped slot 36 with feet 13 to 15 above wet concrete 19. Panel 28 is then slid downwardly (in a direction of travel toward the ground) such that feet 13 to 15 are pushed into foot 19 and bottom edge 43 contacts the footer. If desired, bottom edge 43 can be pressed a selected distance into the wet concrete. A level is utilized to insure that the longitudinal vertical axis of column 18 is normal to the ground, and to insure that faces 40 and 41 are normal to the ground. A plumb line can be utilized to insure that panel 28 and column 18 are installed along a desired fence line, which fence line is horizontally oriented and runs along the ground. While the concrete 19 sets, two-by-fours or other structural members can be used to brace panel 28 and column 18 in the desired position.

As an alternative to pouring a footer, spaced apart holes can be formed in the ground to receive each foot 13 to 17 and the holes each filled with wet concrete. The holes are spaced apart distances equivalent to the distances between feet 13 to 17. During construction of a fence utilizing the general method described above, feet 13 to 17 are, instead of being inserted in a footer 19, each inserted in a different one of the concrete-filled holes while the concrete is still wet. It is, however, presently preferred that a footer 19, and not spaced apart holes filled with concrete, be utilized because the footer provides more strength, particularly when the bottom edge 43 of a panel 28 is pressed a selected distance into footer 19. Edge 43 can be pressed any desired distance into footer 19, but preferably is pressed into footer 19 a distance in the range of one-half to four inches.

One particular unexpected and unpredicted benefit discovered after the invention was developed is that it is not necessary to embed rebar in a footer and to allow the footer to harden before installing a fence. This is not an idea that I initially pursued and did not seem to make sense, because standard procedure dictated installing rebar or other supports in a footer and allowing the footer to harden before fence blocks were installed and before just as the idea of segmenting an individual's spine does not make sense because it would weaken and paralyze the individual.

Another unexpected and unpredicted benefit discovered after the invention was developed is that the portions of the rebar extending into the footer are sufficient to support the fence so that supplemental mechanisms do not need to be provided to interlock fence panels and fence support columns. Since other fence systems interconnect panels and columns, common sense initially might suggest that this would be necessary when only rebar in a wet concrete footer was being utilized to support the fence.

A further unanticipated benefit discovered after the invention was developed is that the cementicious coating can function as a finish coating so that after the fence panel(s) and fence support column(s) are installed in a wet footer construction of the fence is complete. The fence need not be painted or stuccoed or completed with further construction.

Unless reasons exist to the contrary, judicial notice is taken of the following facts:

  • 1. A dominant long felt trend exists in connection with the construction of fencing that the footer allowed to harden before blocks or panels or other fence construction components are installed on the footer. This trend has occurred over an extended period of time, is followed by a large number of individuals in the pertinent art, and likely can be demonstrated by a significant number of references. A countervailing trend, if any, to install rebar simultaneously with a fence panel or support column is believed to be much weaker or to be obfuscated among other trends in the art.
  • 2. A dominant long felt trend exists in connection with the construction of fencing that dictates that stucco or other cementitious fence coatings be installed after the fence is constructed. This trend has occurred over an extended period of time, is followed by a large number of individuals in the pertinent art, and likely can be demonstrated by a significant number of references. A countervailing trend, if any, to apply cementitious fence coatings before the fence is constructed is believed to be much weaker or to be obfuscated among other trends in the art.
  • 3. A dominant long felt trend exists in connection with the construction of fencing that dictates that rebar or other supports that are partially embedded in the footer be installed in a footer before blocks and panels and other fence construction components are installed on the footer. This trend has occurred over an extended period of time, is followed by a large number of individuals in the pertinent art, and likely can be demonstrated by a significant number of references. A countervailing trend, if any, to apply cementitious fence coatings before the fence is constructed is believed to be much weaker or to be obfuscated among other trends in the art.
  • 4. Common sense judgment requires that valid reasoning justifying such judgment be set forth.
  • 5. Common sense dictates that a footer be allowed to harden before block or panels or other fence components are installed on the footer.
  • 6. Common sense dictates that rebar or other supports that are partially embedded in a fence footer be installed in a footer before block and panels and other fence construction components are installed on the footer.
  • 7. Common sense dictates that stucco and other cementitious coatings by applied after a fence is constructed.
  • 8. There is no problem in the fence building art that provides significant impetus for the development of the invention. Conventional construction methods have long been accepted.
  • 9. There is no problem in the fence building art that suggests a readily apparent specific set of solutions, one of which is the invention. Conventional construction methods have long been accepted.
  • 10. There is no problem in the fence building art that suggests altering or adding to the conventional fence building methodologies. Conventional construction methods have long been accepted.
  • 11. The TSM test, per KSR, can provide helpful insight into evaluating the obviousness of the invention.
  • 12. There is no reason not to use the TSM test in evaluating the obviousness of the invention described and claimed herein.
  • 13. Making something better is a broad, general, long-existing motivation that applies to each invention. Broad, general, long-existing motivations likely provide little significant impetus to produce an invention. For example, in the exercise machine art, one broad, general, long-existing motivation is to make exercise machines versatile, so that more than one exercise can be produced on an exercise machine. This motivation may provide impetus to make obvious modifications to a machine, but provides little significant impetus to produce an invention. If, on the other hand, an exercise machine produces a greater than normal number of injuries, such a problem is more specific and provides strong impetus to improve the machine.
  • 14. Constructing a block wall is, for the average individual whose vocation is not in the construction industry, difficult and is not something that most individuals will undertake. There are several reasons for this. First, a variety of supplies have to be obtained including concrete, rebar, blocks, stucco mix, mortar mix, chicken wire, trowels, shovel, level, and line. Second, the concrete, blocks, mortar mix, and stucco mix are heavy and not readily transported and moved to a construction site. Third, mixing mortar, troweling mortar on blocks, and laying blocks to produce a straight, level wall is not a simple proposition. Fourth, applying stucco is not a straight forward matter. Fifth, cleaning up after the wall has been constructed is a time consuming proposition.
  • 15. There is a common belief in the construction industry and among people in general that a foam wall is not, even if stuccoed, strong enough to meet the code requirements that a block wall meets.
  • 16. Mortaring a cement block to a solidified concrete footer is a common practice in the construction of a fence and produces a “cold joint” between the block and footer. Pressing a cement block into a concrete footer while the footer is still wet would produce a “wet joint” which would be significantly stronger than a “cold joint”.
  • 17. Pressing, during the construction of a fence, a cement block or other solid cementitious structural member into a concrete footer while the footer is wet and malleable is not practiced in the art.

Having described my invention in such terms as to enable those of skill in the art to understand and use it, and having described the presently preferred embodiments and best mode thereof, I Claim: