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The present invention relates to roof rack load carrying devices particularly for attachment to the two spar type of roof rack which may be carried on the top of a car or similar vehicle for carrying boats, windsurfers, skiing equipment, and elongate custom luggage containers, hang gliders and other articles of similar size and shape.

In the particular case of wind surfing equipment, there is the problem of carrying the hull, spars and rigging in a simple convenient way, lifting this load up on to a roof rack and also for transporting the load when it is on the ground. Similar problems arise with other kinds of equipment to be transported on the roof of a car.

Various methods have been proposed for dealing with this problem, but generally either the system is complex, or it does not truly solve the problem in enabling a single person to handle the load and raise it easily up on to the roof rack.

The present invention solves the problem by providing a load carrying device for carrying a vehicle roof top load such as a wind surfer, boat or skis, said device comprising a pair of channelled roof spar members for attachment to the roof or roof rack or roof spars of the vehicle, a carrier member for the load and an extension piece for attachment to one of said channelled spar members to facilitate loading and unloading of the carrier member on to and from said vehicle via the extension piece, said spar members being of a cross-section which permits connection of fittings for holding said carrier member and is able to receive said extension piece.

The arrangement enables the carrier member and attached load to be manually lifted onto said roof rack by the steps of

firstly lifting the first end of said carrier member up and onto the extension piece so as to be suppoirted thereby, (and generally there will be only one such extension bar) secondly lifting the second end of the carrier member up and onto the opposite roof spar member to the one having the extension piece

thirdly moving the first end of said carrier member off the extension and on to the roof spar member which carries the extension piece.

The carrier member may be a chassis structure, in its simplest form for example a backbone chassis or a supporting container, which can support and carry the load. Generally a ladder shape structure is suitable.

With the arrangement of the invention a relatively heavy load can be lifted up on to the roof of a vehicle by one person on their own, since usually at least half the load is at all times carried by some other support. Thus, the first end of the carrier member is supported on the extension piece while the person lifts the second end, and the first end is moved off the extension piece by that person while the second end is supported on its roof spar member.

Preferably the carrier member comprises longitudinal sliding attachment means for temporary attachment of the first end of the carrier member to the extension piece to control movement of the first end of the carrier member during movement of the second end of the carrier member relative thereto. When loading the load on to a roof rack during high winds, this temporary attachment is particularly advantageous since it enables the carrier member to be kept under control and not be adversely affected by the winds. It also helps to avoid any risk of the load sliding into and scratching or otherwise damaging the vehicle.

In a practical arrangement, each roof rack cross support comprises a roof rack carrier spar, of a conventional kind, and a parallel roof spar member attached to and lying on top thereof. While the roof rack carrier spars and parallel roof spar member may, as just mentioned, be separate, they may alternatively be an integral unit having elements for attachment to the roof of the car, as well as elements for carrying and holding the carrier member.

The parallel roof spar members may be formed of an extrusion having opposed open grooved channels. This enables external fittings such as inverted L-shaped clamps to be readily attached to the carrier bars.

The carrier member may be formed using extrusions having opposed open grooved channels. Again, this enables any required external fittings to be attached in a particularly convenient manner to the structure of the carrier member. For example a pair of collapsably mounted transport wheels can be attached to the carrier member so that it can be used both for raising the load on to the roof of the car and also as a trolley when on the ground. Also padded cradle supports may be attached if desired.

The extension piece may also be an extrusion with opposed open grooved channels.

The spar member extrusions may also have a longitudinal through channel. In the case of the parallel roof spar members, the through channel enables the cross support extension piece to be temporarily attached thereto via a central stub extension piece which slots within the central channel, while in the case of the carrier member, telescopically adjustable handles may be slotted into the through channels of parallel longitudinal spars formed from the extrusions .

An embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings in which

Figure 1 shows in perspective an elongate carrier member for carrying a windsurfer;

Figure 2 shows an end view of an extrusion for making up the various components;

Figure 3 shows one method of attaching the carrier member on a roof rack carrier bar;

Figures 4a, b and c show diagrammatic views of how the frame structure and its load is raised on to a roof rack and lowered therefrom;

Figures 4d, e and f show diagrammatic vias of how a second carrier member can be loaded;

Figure 5 shows the carrier member in operation as a trolley;

Figure 6 shows detail of the carrier member being raised on to an extension piece;

Figure 7 show a custom carrier box exploded from a roof rack carrier.

Figure 8 shows the extension piece being slotted in place; and

Figure 9 shows attachments to the extrusion.

Referring to Figure 1, a carrier member is made up in a ladder-form shape from aluminium extrusions of the profile shown in Figure 2. Two longitudinal side pieces 1 form frame spar members and are held together by three cross members 2 which are welded to the longitudinal members 1. Alternatively they could be bolted or otherwise attached.

Referring to Figure 2, the profile of the extrusions includes an upper open grooved channel 3 and a lower open grooved channel 4 whereby ancillary fitments can be readily attached. (In an alternative form the grooved channels are located laterally rather then above and below) . At the centre of the extrusion is a rectangular longitudinal hole 6 which performs a number of different functions and is of a shape to perform the various functions.

In the case of the elongate carrier member, the hole 6 enables end handles 7 (Figure 1) to be attached in a telescopic manner so as to be adjustable to accommodate windsurfers of different length.

The extrusion material is also used to form the parallel roof spar members to be attached to the roof rack as support for the elongate carrier member. The underside open channels 4 enable the parallel roof spar members to be permanently clamped to the roof rack. Locking mouldings 8 (see Figures 3, 6 and 9) in the form of slidable prongs can be inserted in the channel and can be bolted in a fixed position for the purpose of securing the frame structure to the parallel roof support spar members (Figure 9 shows the mouldings 8 above and the channel clamp to the roof rack below which are attached by bolting through apertured plates 10 and 14).

A cross support extension piece 9 (see Figure 4c) formed from the same profile extrusion material, can be temporarily attached to one or other of the parallel roof spar members by means of a central stub extension piece 13 (see Figure 8) which is of the same cross section as the rectangular hole 6. The central stub 13 is bolted or pop riveted or otherwise secured within the cross support extension piece 9 and being of the same cross section as the matching rectangular hole 6 of the roof spar member extrusions enables the extension piece to be pushed in place in a very simple manner.

A wheel assembly 12 can be attached to the longitudinal side pieces 1 of the elongate carrier member and thus enables the carrier member to serve as a transport trolley when off the roof rack of the vehicle. This is shown in Figure 5. Alternatively the wheel assembly can be attached to fixtures in the underside channels.

Figures 4a, 4b and 4c show how the elongate load carrier and its load can be raised on to the roof of a vehicle.

Figures 4d, e and f show how a second carrier member can be accommodated.

In a first step (see Figure 4a) a first end of the elongate carrier member is lifted on to the cross support extension piece 9. This can also be seen in Figure 6 in perspective. At this stage a temporary attachment can be formed between a longitudinal bar 11 on the carrier structure and an elastic strap 11a to ensure that the structure does not slide off the cross support extension piece or against the vehicle.

In the second stage, the lower end of the carrier member is lifted off the ground and on to the second roof rack cross support (see Figure 4b).

The third stage is to undo the temporary attachment on the cross support extension piece and move the first end of the carrier member across into position on the first roof rack spar member.

The carrier member is then moved in the direction of the first cross support so that the fixed locking mouldings 8 located towards the first end in the lower channel of the extrusion forming the main spars of the structure engage fully in holes of the first cross support. The adjustable locking mouldings located in the lower channel towards the second end of the said extrusion are then slid manually along the lower channel until they are fully engaged in the holes in the second cross suppport and then secured when in place by tightening the handwheels ( see Figure 3 ) .

Thus a windsurfer as depicted in Figures 5 arid 6 can be firmly and conveniently carried on the roof rack. As an alternative a roof box as shown in Figure 7 can be carried in the same way, either on a separate carrier or with in built carrier clamps. Other elongate loads such as canoes or sailing dinghies, or skis can also be similarly supported and carried.

As shown in Figures 4d, e and f a second load can be carried. In this case the first load is slid across to the far side before the loading sequence for the second load is commenced, or a second extension piece on the other side can be used and the other load applied from the other side. Also, as shown, the second spar member may need a short stub extension to accommodate the extra width required during loading of the second load.