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Snap-on cross brace for docks, decks and scaffolds

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Title: Snap-on cross brace for docks, decks and scaffolds.
Abstract: A snap-on cross brace is easily coupled to, and removed from, spaced-apart structural members of the type used in the assembly of docks, decks, and scaffolds. With respect to a structure having first and second spaced-apart support members, each with an outer diameter, a cross brace according to the invention comprises an elongate member having two ends spaced apart at a distance greater than the spacing of the support members, and first and second swiveling snap-on elements, one disposed at a respective one of the two ends of the elongate member. Each snap-on element having a c-shaped cross section with an inner diameter slightly less than the outer diameter of the support members, such that each snap-on element may be oriented over a respective one of the support members and engaged at different heights through the application of pressure fixing the elongate member at an angle therebetween. Each snap-on element comprises a spring metal cylindrical cradle having a lengthwise opening with sides spaced apart slightly less than the outer diameter of the spaced-apart support members. A fastener extends through the cradle and the elongate member at an angle perpendicular to the central axis facilitating rotation about the fastener. ...


- Troy, MI, US
Inventor: Dave Berlin
USPTO Applicaton #: #20080128205 - Class: 1821867 (USPTO) - 06/05/08 - Class 182 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20080128205, Snap-on cross brace for docks, decks and scaffolds.

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FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to structures made using cross braces and, in particular, to a snap-on cross brace that may be easily coupled to, and removed from, spaced-apart structural members.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many lightweight structures benefit from cross braces, including the dock system shown in FIG. 1. Vertical members 109, 111 extend from the dock down into the water, resulting in an assembly that could be unstable from side-to-side without cross brace 102 anchored to the vertical members 109, 111 with couplings 104, 106.

FIG. 2 is a detailed drawing which shows the way in which the cross brace of FIG. 1 is currently implemented. The system uses two coupling assemblies, 104, 106, which couple to a diagonal member 120. Each coupling includes front and back clamping members, 108, 110, which are joined on either side with nut/bolts as with 112, 114. One side of the coupling includes an adaptor 116, which fits into the end of hollow tube comprising diagonal member 120, and is bolted through with another nut and bolt fastener 122. The vertical uprights 109, 111 are shown in broken-line form.

The prior-art system just described is difficult to install and remove, clumsy, and expensive. In order to place one of the couplings onto one of the vertical members, one of the nuts and bolts such as 114 must be completely removed, with the other (112) being loosened, allowing the two clamp halves 108, 110 to be fitted around the vertical member 106. Once this is accomplished, the nut and bolt 114 can be removed, but cannot be tightened until the other end is assembled using clamping member 104 over vertical member 109. This takes considerable adjustment, tools such as a ratchet wrench, and creates a possibility that the various fasteners will be dropped into the water. Moreover, since docks are often assembled in the early spring and taken down in late fall, the water may be extremely cold, thereby further inconveniencing the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to a snap-on cross brace that may be easily coupled to, and removed from, spaced-apart structural members of the type used in the assembly of docks, decks, and scaffolds. With respect to a structure having first and second spaced-apart support members, each with an outer diameter, a cross brace according to the invention comprises an elongate member having two ends spaced apart at a distance greater than the spacing of the support members, and first and second swiveling snap-on elements, one disposed at a respective one of the two ends of the elongate member. Each snap-on element having a c-shaped cross section with an inner diameter slightly less than the outer diameter of the support members, such that each snap-on element may be oriented over a respective one of the support members and engaged at different heights through the application of pressure fixing the elongate member at an angle therebetween.

In the preferred embodiment the elongate member is a hollow tube, and the elongate member and snap-on elements are both constructed of aluminum or an alloy thereof. Also in the preferred embodiment, each snap-on element comprises a spring metal cylindrical cradle having a lengthwise opening with sides spaced apart slightly less than the outer diameter of the spaced-apart support members. A fastener extends through the cradle and the elongate member at an angle perpendicular to the central axis facilitating rotation about the fastener.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified drawing illustrating the way in which a cross brace is applied in a prior-art dock system;

FIG. 2 is a detailed drawing of the prior-art cross brace of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an oblique representation of an improved cross brace coupler constructed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 4 is an end-on view drawing showing the way in which the improved cross brace of FIG. 3 is applied; and

FIG. 5 is a cross section of a snap-on cross brace coupling according to the invention configured for structural members having an outer diameter of two inches.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Having discussed the drawbacks of the prior-art configuration of FIGS. 1 and 2, the reader's attention is directed to FIG. 3, which shows generally at 300 a cross brace system and coupler 300 constructed in accordance with the invention. The coupler 300 is attached to one end of an elongate tube 302, with the understanding that an identical coupler 300 would be disposed at the other end of the member 302.

The coupler 300 broadly includes a body portion 320 through which there is disposed a nut and bolt, facilitating swiveling of the coupler 300 as shown with the double-headed arrows. On either side of the bottom portion 320 are curved sections 310, 312, resulting into a cradle that receives a cylindrical support member such as 302 in snap-fit engagement.

FIG. 4 is an end-on view drawing showing the way in which the system is applied. In particular, a first coupler 300 has been press fit against the vertical member 109, and, owing to the ability to swivel the two couplers, second coupler 301 has been applied at a lower height to a vertical member 111, allowing elongate member 302 to assume a diagonal orientation, thereby providing an effective cross bracing action without the use of tools. To better assist with swiveling action, fasteners 322 may include nuts with plastic or vinyl inserts, allowing for a controlled tightening without over-tightening. Washers and vinyl spacers may also be used to assist with swiveling.

FIG. 5 is a cross section of a coupler according to the invention, in this case with dimensions shown for compatibility with cylindrical structural elements having an outer diameter of two inches. The side sections 310, 312 extend downwardly past center line 502 sufficient to create a distance d which is slightly less than the two inch diameter, enabling the tubing to be pressed in, upwardly in the figure, and snapped into place. The structural bottom portion 320 includes extension members 510, 512, which not only provide for additional spring action of the side portions 310, 312, but also create a space to facilitate the head of a bolt which runs through the coupler. Middle portion 520, though optional, assists with overall strength and keeps the cylindrical pipe inserted into the coupler from extending too far and “bottom out.”

In the preferred embodiment, the coupler is constructed of aluminum, or an alloy thereof, as is the elongate member 302. However, other materials are not ruled out, such as stainless steel, suitable plastics, and so forth. Furthermore, although the cross brace is shown in conjunction with a dock system, it is equally applicable to decks, scaffolds and other structures that utilize cylindrical support members. Additionally, although only a single cross brace is shown in FIG. 4, for example, an X-shaped system is easily accommodated by simply applying a second cross brace to the back side of the support members, if desired.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20080128205 A1
Publish Date
06/05/2008
Document #
11566269
File Date
12/04/2006
USPTO Class
1821867
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
04G7/08
Drawings
3



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