Title:
Boat Cushion Mount
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present disclosure relates to a latching arrangement for securing a cushion or other structure to a mounting location. The latching arrangement includes a female latching element that interlocks with a corresponding male latching element. The female latching element can include a split sleeve that extends along a first axis from a first end to a second end. The female latching element can also include a flange that projects radially outwardly from the first end of the split sleeve. The female latching element can further including an elastic ring that mounts around the split sleeve at a location between the first and second ends of the split sleeve. The male latching element can include a shaft that extends along a second axis from a first end to a second end. The male latching element can also include a flange that projects radially outwardly from the first end of the shaft, and an enlarged head positioned at the second end of the shaft for retaining the shaft within the split sleeve when the male and female latching elements are coupled together.



Inventors:
Sahr, Ronald Clifford (Little Falls, MN, US)
Gilman, Steve (Little Falls, MN, US)
Backowski, Chris (Cushing, MN, US)
Hoheisel, Dave (Little Falls, MN, US)
Wille, Dave (Cushing, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/425096
Publication Date:
02/18/2010
Filing Date:
04/16/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/595.1
International Classes:
B63B17/00; A44B99/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
VENNE, DANIEL V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A boat comprising: a hull having a bow, a stern, a port side and a starboard side; a structural component positioned within the hull, the structural component defining at least a portion of a cushion mounting location, the structural component defining a mounting opening positioned at the cushion mounting location; a female latching element having a flange that seats on the structural component and a receiver having at least a portion that projects outwardly from the flange and extends through the mounting opening; a cushion that mounts at the cushion mounting location, the cushion having a resilient cushioning layer secured to a substrate forming a backing of the cushion; a male latching element including a shaft having a base end and a free end, the male latching element also including a flange connected to the base end of the shaft and an enlargement provided at the free end of the shaft, the flange of the male latching element being connected to the substrate of the cushion with the shaft projecting outwardly from the backing of the cushion; wherein the cushion is mounted at the cushion mounting location by moving the cushion toward the cushion mounting location such that the shaft of the male latching element is received within the receiver of the female latching element thereby causing the cushion to be latched to the structural component.

2. The boat of claim 1, wherein the mounting flange of the female latching element has a thickness that is less than or equal to one quarter of an inch.

3. The boat of claim 1, wherein the mounting flange of the male latching element has a thickness that is less than or equal to one quarter of an inch.

4. The boat of claim 1, wherein the flange of the female latching component is fastened to the structural component and the flange of the male latching component is fastened to the substrate of the cushion.

5. The boat of claim 1, wherein the female latching component has a flush mounted configuration relative to the structural component.

6. The boat of claim 1, wherein the enlargement at the free end of the shaft of the male latching element includes a head having a rounded, conical end.

7. The boat of claim 1, wherein the receiver of the female latching element includes a split sleeve.

8. The boat of claim 7, wherein the split sleeve includes at least first and second pieces separated by split-lines.

9. The boat of claim 8, wherein the split sleeve includes two half-pieces.

10. The boat of claim 7, wherein the split sleeve includes a first end positioned at the flange of the female latching element and a second end spaced from the flange of the female latching element, and wherein the split sleeve has a truncated conical configuration with a major cross-dimension positioned at the first end of the split sleeve and a minor cross-dimension positioned at the second end of the split sleeve.

11. The boat of claim 7, wherein the female latching element includes an elastic ring mounted around the split sleeve.

12. The boat of claim 11, wherein the elastic ring is mounted in a circumferential groove defined around an exterior of the split sleeve.

13. The boat of claim 11, wherein the split sleeve and the flange of the female latching element are integrally molded as a unitary plastic part.

14. A latching arrangement comprising: a female latching element including a split sleeve that extends along a first axis from a first end to a second end, the female latching element also including a flange that projects radially outwardly from the first end of the split sleeve, the female latching element further including an elastic ring that mounts around the split sleeve at a location between the first and second ends of the split sleeve; a male latching element including a shaft that extends along a second axis from a first end to a second end, the male latching element also including a flange that projects radially outwardly from the first end of the shaft, the male latching element further including an enlarged head positioned at the second end of the shaft; wherein the male latching element is coupled to the female latching element by inserting the shaft of the male latching element through into the receiver of the female latching element.

15. The latching arrangement of claim 14, wherein the first and second axes are co-axially aligned when the shaft of the male latching element is positioned within the split sleeve of the female latching element.

16. The latching arrangement of claim 14, wherein the mounting flange of the female latching element has a maximum thickness measured in the direction of the first axis that is less than or equal to one quarter of an inch.

17. The latching arrangement of claim 16, wherein the mounting flange of the male latching element has a maximum thickness measured in the direction of the second axis that is less than or equal to one quarter of an inch.

18. The latching arrangement of claim 14, wherein the head at the second end of the shaft of the male latching element has a rounded, conical end.

19. The latching arrangement of claim 14, wherein the split sleeve includes at least first and second pieces separated by split-lines that extend along the first axis.

20. The latching arrangement of claim 19, wherein the split sleeve includes two half-pieces.

21. The latching arrangement of claim 14, split sleeve has a truncated conical configuration with a major cross-dimension positioned at the first end of the split sleeve and a minor cross-dimension positioned at the second end of the split sleeve.

22. The latching arrangement of claim 14, wherein the elastic ring is mounted in a circumferential groove defined around an exterior of the split sleeve.

23. The latching arrangement of claim 14, wherein the split sleeve and the flange of the female latching element are integrally molded as a unitary plastic part.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/045,825, filed Apr. 17, 2008, which application is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Boats often have cushions that are detachably mounted at cushion mounting locations. For example, cushions are often detachable so as to allow storage areas located beneath or behind the cushions to be more easily accessed. Other cushions are removable to convert a region of a boat between a cushioned area (e.g., a sundeck or cushioned seating) and a hard platform such as a casting deck.

A prior art technique for detachably securing a cushion to a mounting location involves using a snap fastener. Typically, a button and socket assembly of the snap fastener is secured to a free end of a strap sewn to the cushion, and a stud and post assembly of the snap fastener is secured to a structural component of the boat. Most commonly, the stud is screwed into a metal or fiber glass component of the boat. By snapping the button and socket assembly over the post of the stud and post assembly, the cushion is secured to the cushion mounting location of the boat. However, when used on fiber glass boats, the stud can cause visible damage to the boats' gel coat layers. Further, straps are often viewed as aesthetically unappealing and can be prone to wear.

More robust latching arrangements have also been used to detachably secure boat cushions to cushion mounting locations of boats. However, existing cushion latching arrangements have components that are installed within custom recesses preformed within a structural component of the boat. Therefore, to utilize such latching arrangements on an existing boat style, the structural design of the boat must be modified to incorporate the recesses at predetermined locations. In the case of fiber glass boats, this involves the expense of re-tooling a new mold. Furthermore, existing cushion latch arrangements are often rather large and expensive.

In view of the above, improved latching/fastening arrangements are needed for detachably mounting boat cushions at desired locations on a boat.

SUMMARY

Example embodiments described herein generally relate to fastening arrangements for detachably mounting boat cushions at desired locations on a boat.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Aspects of the disclosure may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the disclosure in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a boat including a plurality of boat cushions detachably mounted at cushion mounting locations of the boat

FIG. 2 shows a latching arrangement having features in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a first side view of a female latching element.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a female latching element.

FIG. 5 is a second side view of a female latching element.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an elastic ring.

FIG. 7 is top view of an elastic ring

FIG. 8 is a first side view of a male latching element.

FIG. 9 is a second side view of a male latching element.

FIG. 10 a perspective view of a male latching element.

FIG. 11 is an example embodiment of a male latching element inserted into a female latching element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a boat 100 including a hull with a bow 105, a stern 110, a port side 115 and starboard side 120. The boat 100 includes a passenger area having a stern seating region 125 and a bow seating region 130. The boat 100 also includes a plurality of boat cushions 135 detachably mounted at cushion mounting locations of the boat. The detachable cushions are each secured at their corresponding mounting location by a push-to-engage latching assembly. The latching assemblies include first components secured to the back sides or undersides of the cushions, and second components secured to structural components of the boat located at the mounting locations. When a given cushion is positioned at its corresponding mounting location, the first and second latching components latch together to detachably secure the cushion at the cushion mounting location.

FIG. 2 shows a latching arrangement having features in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure. The latching arrangement 200 includes a first latching component in the form of a male latching element 205 shown secured to the back or underside of a cushion 210. The latching arrangement can also be referred to as a fastening arrangement, a retaining arrangement, a coupling arrangement, or like terms. The latching arrangement also includes a second latching component in the form of a female latching element 215 shown secured to a structural component 220 of a boat 100 at a cushion mounting location 225. By aligning the male latching element 205 with the female latching element 215, and then moving the cushion 210 toward the cushion mounting location, P, the male latching element 205 snaps within the female latching element 215 to detachably secure the cushion 210 at the mounting location 225.

In one embodiment, the cushion can include a cushioning layer 230 having a resilient construction such as foam. The cushion can also include a substrate layer 235 secured to the cushioning layer. The substrate layer preferably is less resilient than the cushioning layer. In one embodiment, the substrate layer can include a plastic, metal or wood construction. A fabric layer can be provided over the cushioning layer (not shown). A perimeter of the fabric layer can be secured to the underside of the substrate layer by fasteners such as staples. The region where the fabric is secured to the underside of the substrate can form a lower lip (not shown) that extends around the perimeter of the underside of the substrate.

The structural component 220 of the boat to which the female latching element 215 is secured preferably has a generally rigid construction such as aluminum, fiber glass, plastic or other materials. In certain embodiments, the structural component can include a boat platform, a boat seating area, a panel covering a storage area, a sidewall panel, a decking area, or other structures.

Referring to FIGS. 3-5, the female latching element 215 includes a receiver shown as a split sleeve 300. The receiver can also be referred to as a socket portion, a receptacle, or like terms. The split sleeve 300 includes a first half sleeve 305 separated from a second half sleeve 310 by a pair of slots 315. In alternative embodiments, the split sleeve 300 can be separated into more than two pieces (e.g., more than two slots could be used). A central passage 320 extends longitudinally through the split sleeve 300 along an axis M.

Referring still to FIGS. 3-5, the split sleeve 300 includes a first end 400 positioned opposite from a second end 405. A mounting flange 410 is integrally formed with the split sleeve 300 at the first end 400. The split sleeve 300 has a truncated conical configuration with a major inner cross-dimension A (e.g., an inner diameter) located at the first end 400 and a minor inner cross-dimension, B, (e.g., an inner diameter) located at the second end 405. The outer body of the split sleeve 300 is also tapered in a like manner. The mounting flange 410 has a cross-dimension (not labeled) that is greater than the maximum outer cross-dimension of the split sleeve such that the underside of the mounting flange forms a shoulder 320 that projects radially outwardly from the first end 400 of the split sleeve 300. The mounting flange preferably has a thickness T that is relatively small. In one embodiment, the thickness is less than or equal or ¼ inch. In another embodiment, the thickness T is less than or equal to 3/16 of an inch. In still another embodiment, the thickness T is less than or equal to about ⅛ of an inch.

The mounting flange 410 has a lead-in opening 415 that is concentric with the axis M such that the lead-in opening 415 is coaxially aligned with the central passage 400 of the split sleeve 300. The lead-in opening 415 is tapered to provide a tapered leading-in surface 420 for guiding the male coupling element 205 through the mounting flange 410 and into the split sleeve 300 during coupling of the male latching element 205 to the female latching element 215. The mounting flange 410 also includes two fastener openings 425 positioned at opposite sides of the lead-in opening 415. The fastener openings 425 are adapted to receive fasteners such as screws that extend through the fastener openings 425 and into a structural component 220 of the boat 100 to which it is desired to mount the female latching element 215. The mounting flange 410 has countersunk regions 430 positioned around the fastener openings 425 so that heads of fasteners inserted through the fastener openings will be inset into the mounting flange 410.

The split sleeve 300 also includes a circumferential groove 500 that extends around the outer perimeter of the split sleeve 300 at a location between the first and second ends. The circumferential groove 500 receives an elastic ring 600 that mounts around the split sleeve. The elastic ring 600 includes a ring notch 605 describing a discontinuity in the elastic ring 600, thereby facilitating with which the circumferential groove 500 receives the elastic ring 600. In one embodiment the elastic ring 600 made of a plastic material, such as molded thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). In other embodiments, the female latching element 600 can have a metal construction. The elastic ring 600 controls/varies the amount of force required to flex the first and second half-sleeves apart during insertion of the male latching element 205 through the split sleeve 300.

In a preferred embodiment, the female latching element 215 has a molded, one piece construction. In one embodiment, the female latching element 215 is molded of a plastic material such as nylon or other plastic materials. In other embodiments, the female latching element 215 can have a metal construction.

Referring to FIGS. 8-10, the male latching element 205 includes a shaft 800 that extends along an axis N between a first end 900 and a second end 905. The shaft 800 has a truncated conical configuration with a major cross-dimension 910 located at the first end 900 and a minor cross-dimension 905 located at the second end 905. A mounting flange 810 is integrally formed with the first end 900 of the shaft 800. The mounting flange 810 has a cross-dimension 920 that is greater than the major cross-dimension 910 of the shaft 800. The mounting flange 810 defines first and second fastener openings 1000 located at opposite sides of the shaft 800. The fastener openings 800 received fasteners used to secure the mounting flange 810 to the substrate layer 235 of a cushion 210. Countersunk regions 815 defined in a first side 925 of the mounting flange 810 allow heads of the fasteners to be recessed into the mounting flange 810.

The male latching element 205 also includes an enlargement or head 820 integrally formed with the second end 905 of the shaft 800. The head 820 has a maximum outer cross-dimension 825 that is greater than the minor inner cross-dimension, B, of the split sleeve 300 and smaller than the major inner cross-dimension, A, of the split sleeve 300. The head 820 has a dual tapered configuration. For example, the head has a first tapered region 805 that extends from the second end 905 of the shaft 800 to the major outer cross-dimension 825 of the head 820 and a second tapered region 830 that extends from the major outer cross-dimension 825 of the head 820 to an apex 835 of the head 820. The first tapered region 805 increases in cross-dimension as the first tapered region 805 extends from the second end 905 of the shaft 800 to the major outer cross-dimension 825 of the head 820. The second tapered region 830 decreases in cross-dimension extending from the major outer cross-dimension 825 of the head 820 to the apex 835 of the head 820.

It is preferred for the male latching element 205 to have a molded, one piece construction. In one embodiment, the male latching element 205 is constructed of a plastic material such as nylon. Additionally, it is preferred for the mounting flange 810 of the male latching element 205 to be relatively thin. In one embodiment, the mounting flange 810 has a thickness C less than or equal to about ¼ of an inch. In another embodiment, the mounting flange has a thickness C less than or equal to about 3/16 of an inch. In still another embodiment, the mounting flange has a thickness C less than or equal to about ⅛ of an inch.

To install the female latching element 215 to a structural component 220 of a boat 100, a hole 240 is cut into or otherwise provided in the structural component 220 of the boat 100. Preferably, the hole is slightly larger than the maximum diameter of the socket portion of the female latching element 215. Once the hole 240 is provided in the boat 100, the split sleeve 300, with the elastic ring 600 pre-installed thereon, is inserted through the hole 240 such that the shoulder 320 of the mounting flange 410 seats on the structural component 220 of the boat 100. Fasteners are then inserted through the fastener openings 425 of the mounting flange 410 and into the structural component 220 of the boat 100 to secure the female latching element 215 to the structural component 220. As so mounted, the female latching element 215 has a “flush mounted” configuration relative to the structural component 220. By “flush mounted”, it is meant that the structural component 220 of the boat does not have any recess for receiving or otherwise accommodating the thickness of the mounting flange 410.

The male latching element 205 is secured to a cushion 230 by placing a back side 930 of the mounting flange 810 against the substrate 235 of the cushion 230. Thereafter, fasteners are inserted through the fastener openings 1000 and into the substrate 235 to secure the male latching element 205 to the substrate 235. As so mounted, an outwardly facing surface 935 of the mounting flange 810 is slightly recessed relative to the lip provided about the perimeter of the cushion (not shown).

To latch a cushion 210 to a mounting location 225, the cushion 210 is positioned adjacent the mounting location so that the axis N of the male latching element 205 aligns with the axis M of the female latching element 215. The cushion 210 is then moved linearly toward the mounting location 225 so that the shaft 800 of the male latching element 205 is inserted through the lead-in opening 415 of the mounting flange 410 and into the central passage 320 of the split sleeve 300. As the shaft 800 is inserted into the split sleeve 300, the head 820 causes the first and second half-sleeves of the split sleeve 300 to flex away from one another thereby enlarging the minor inner cross-dimension B of the split sleeve 300 so as to allow the head 820 of the male latching element 205 to pass through the second end 405 of the split sleeve 300. Typically, the first and second half-sleeves flex at hinge locations located at the first end 400 of the split sleeve 300. The elastic ring 600 is provided to increase the amount of force required to flex the first and second half-sleeves apart. By varying the elasticity of the ring, the force required to insert the head of the shaft through the split sleeve 300 and to remove the shaft 800 from the split sleeve 800 can be increased or decreased as needed. The insertion process continues until the head 820 of the shaft 800 passes completely through the split sleeve 300 and the first and second half-sleeves flex or snap back toward one another such that the second end 405 of the split sleeve 300 opposes the first tapered region 805 of the head 820. FIG. 11 is an example embodiment 1100 of the male latching element 205 inserted into the female latching element 215.

To remove the cushion 210 from the cushion mounting location 225, the cushion 210 is pulled linearly away from the mounting location in a direction parallel to the axes M and N. As the cushion 210 is pulled away from the mounting location 225, the first tapered region 805 of the head 820 causes the first and second half-sleeves of the split sleeve 300 to flex apart thereby allowing the head 820 to pass through the central passage 320 of the split sleeve 300. After the head 820 passes through the split sleeve 300, the first and second half-sleeves flex back together due to the elasticity provided by the elastic ring 600 and the inherent resiliency provided by the half-sleeves adjacent the hinge locations.

The preceding embodiments are intended to illustrate without limitation the utility and scope of the present disclosure. Those skilled in the art will readily recognize various modifications and changes that may be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the true spirit and scope of the disclosure.