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1. (WO2018014071) A FENCEPOST CONNECTOR SYSTEM
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A fencepost connector system

Field of the Invention

[1] This invention relates generally to fencepost connectors and in particular, but not necessarily entirely, to a fencepost connector system for round timber posts.

Background of the Invention

[2] Conventional round timber post connectors include connectors such as the galvanised metal three-way connectors comprising a cross-piece tube section into which distal ends of crosspiece posts are inserted and a midway and orthogonal tubular stem section into which a distal end of a stem post is inserted. Similar configurations exist for corner connections, inline connections, four-way connections and the like.

[3] However, such arrangements are deficient in several respects.

[4] Specifically, such arrangements are ill suited for fence construction for sloping ground.

[5] Furthermore, such arrangements are difficult to assemble especially with the posts in place. Yet further, such arrangements are difficult to manufacture, a store and transport.

[6] The present invention seeks to provide a fencepost connector system, which will overcome or substantially ameliorate at least some of the deficiencies of the prior art, or to at least provide an alternative.

[7] It is to be understood that, if any prior art information is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the information forms part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country.

Summary of the Disclosure

[8] There is provided herein a fencepost connector system defining a cross-piece tubular section for crosspiece posts and at least one stem tubular section for at least one stem post and wherein the cross-piece tubular section is configured for allowing the stem post to be set at an angle with respect to the crosspiece posts so as to allow for utilisation of the system for sloping ground.

[9] Furthermore, in a preferred embodiment, the present fence post connector system is of modular construction comprising a plurality of shell sections which are joined together with fasteners to form the fencepost connector system.

[10] The shell sections simplify the manufacture, storage and transportation of the shell sections.

[11] Furthermore, the shell sections simplify the assembly of the fencepost connector in that the shell sections can be fastened about the distal ends of the respective posts when the respective posts are in place.

[12] Furthermore, differing configurations of shell sections allow for differing connector types including the three-way t-piece, orthogonal four-way and coplanar four-way connections.

[13] Furthermore, in embodiments, the present fence post connector system comprises convenient locking rings which lock the shell pieces together.

[14] In embodiment, the shell sections and the locking rings are configured for simple and convenient snap-on engagement and, in further embodiments, the distal ends of the shell sections comprise a constriction mechanism which constrict against the distal ends of the posts under compression when engaged by the locking rings so as to hold the distal ends of the posts therein.

[15] As such, with the foregoing in mind, in accordance with one embodiment, there is provided fencepost connector system comprising: a crosspiece tubular section defining opposite open ends for receipt of distal ends of substantially inline crosspiece posts therein in use; and a stem tubular section adjoining a midpoint of the crosspiece tubular section, the stem tubular section defining at least one opening for receipt of a distal end of a stem post therein in use, the stem tubular section being substantially orthogonal to the crosspiece tubular section, and wherein the stem tubular section has a portion having a diameter greater than that of the stem post and crosspiece tubular section.

[16] The stem tubular section may define a distal portion and a proximal portion, the proximal portion being towards the crosspiece tubular section and wherein the proximal portion may have a diameter greater than that of the distal portion.

[17] The distal portion may have a circular cross-section.

[18] The proximal portion may have an oval cross-section.

[19] The oval cross-section may have a lengthwise axis in line with a lengthwise axis of the crosspiece tubular section.

[20] The distal portion may have a diameter of approximately 100 mm.

[21] The proximal portion may have a diameter of approximately 140 mm.

[22] The fencepost connector system may be of modular construction, comprising at least two shell sections each partially defining the crosspiece tubular section and the stem tubular section.

[23] The fencepost connector system may further comprise fasteners penetrating the shell sections for securing the shell sections to the respective distal ends of the posts.

[24] The fasteners comprise a pair of fasteners for distal ends of each of crosspiece tubular sections of the shells and a fastener for a dista l end of each of a stem tubular section of the shell sections.

[25] The fencepost connector system may further comprise locking rings for distal ends of the shell sections.

[26] The shell sections may define distal locking ring engagements for engagement of the locking rings in use.

[27] The locking ring engagements and the respective locking rings each may define a clip-type mechanical interlock.

[28] The clip-type mechanical interlock may comprise the distal locking ring engagements comprising a rim configured for catching by a corresponding catch of a respective locking ring in use.

[29] The locking ring engagements may comprise a constriction mechanism.

[30] The constriction mechanism may be configured for constricting against the respective distal ends of the posts under compression.

[31] Each constriction mechanism may comprise a V-shaped cross-section portion and wherein, under compression, the V-shaped cross-section portion may be configured to compress such that an apex of the V-shaped cross-section portion moves inwardly.

[32] The locking rings each may define a channel configured for accommodating a distal end of the V shaped cross-section portion.

[33] The constriction mechanism may comprise constriction allowance cutouts.

[34] Each shell sections may comprise a crosspiece tubular section transition through approximately 180° and a stem tubular section transitioning through approximately 180°.

[35] The at least two shell sections may be two shell sections for engaging the stem post for forming a three-way connection in use.

[36] Each shell sections may comprise a crosspiece tubular section transition through approximately 90° and a stem tubular section transitioning through approximately 180°.

[37] The at least two shell sections may be two adjacent shell sections defining two openings for engaging orthogonal posts for forming a four-way orthogonal connection.

[38] The fencepost connector system may further comprise a quarter round tube section between the two adjacent shell sections.

[39] The at least two shell sections may be two pairs of adjacent shell sections defining at two openings for engaging opposite posts for forming a four-way coplanar connection.

[40] Other aspects of the invention are also disclosed.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[41] Notwithstanding any other forms which may fall within the scope of the present invention, preferred embodiments of the disclosure will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[42] Figure 1 shows a halfpiece shell section for a fencepost connector system in accordance with an embodiment;

[43] Figures 2 - 5 show the utilisation of the halfpiece shell section for the construction of a three-way fencepost connection in accordance with an embodiment;

[44] Figure 6 - 9 show exemplary dimensions of the halfpiece shell section in accordance with an embodiment;

[45] Figure 9 - 10 show a locking ring in accordance with an embodiment;

[46] Figure 12 shows a quarterpiece shell section for a fencepost connector system in accordance with a further embodiment;

[47] Figure 13 - 16 show the utilisation of the quarterpiece shell section for forming a four-way orthogonal fencepost connection in accordance with an embodiment;

[48] Figures 17 - 19 show the utilisation of the quarterpiece shell section for forming a coplanar four-way orthogonal fencepost connection in accordance with an embodiment.

Description of Embodiments

[49] Figure 1 shows a fence post connector system 1 comprising a halfpiece shell section 2 defining a cross-piece tubular section 3 and a stem tubular section 4 adjoining a midpoint of the cross-piece tubular section 3 in accordance with one embodiment.

[50] In this way, when the shell section 2 is fastened adjacent another shell section 2, the respective cross-piece tubular sections 3 define opposite open ends for receipt of respective distal ends of substantially in-line cross-piece posts therein and the respective stem tubular sections 4 define an opening for receipt of a distal end of a stem post therein, the stem post being substantially orthogonal to the cross-piece posts.

[51] Specifically, figure 3 shows the assembled fence post connector system 1 comprising a pair of half piece shell sections 2 retaining the substantially inline cross-piece posts 5 and the orthogonal stem post 6.

[52] For the assembly of the connector system 1, a pair of opposing halfpiece shell sections 2 are placed about the distal ends of the posts 5, 6 and wherein, once assembled, fasteners 9, such as self-tapping Tek™ screws are driven therethrough so as to secure the sections 2 to the posts 5, 6.

[53] In a preferred embodiment, the stem tubular section 4 has a potion having a diameter greater than the diameter of the stem post 6 and the crosspiece tubular section 3. Specifically, referring to figure 7, there is shown the stem tubular section 4 being substantially frustoconical in comprising a proximal section 7 and a distal section 8 and wherein the proximal section 7 has a diameter greater than that of the distal section 8 along the lengthwise axis of the cross-piece tubular section 3.

[54] The increased diameter at the proximal section 7 allows the stem post 6 to be angled with respect to the cross-piece posts 5 so as to allow for the utilisation of the fencepost connector system 1 on sloping ground or other similar application.

[55] Specifically, as is further illustrated in figure 9, the lower portion 8 comprises a substantially circular cross-section whereas the upper portion 7 defines a substantially oval shaped cross-section 7 such that the inner faces of the distal section 8 lie flush against the entire outer periphery of the similarly cylindrical stem post 6 whereas the widened upper portion 7 allows the stem post 6 to be accommodated at various angles with respect to the elongate axis of the cross-piece tubular section 3 when engaged within the stem tubular section 4.

[56] In embodiments, the fencepost connector system 1 is sized for utilisation with timber fence posts having a diameter of approximately 100 mm. As such, and as is shown in figure 9, the diameter of the distal section 8 is substantially 100 mm whereas the diameter of the proximal section 7 is greater by approximately 40 mm to allow for such angle adjustment.

[57] As such, the stem post 6 may be retained within the stem tubular sections 4 at differing angles with respect to the cross-piece post 5 during assembly and, once angled appropriately, a fastener 9 may be driven through the stem tubular section 4 into the upper distal end of the stem post 6 to secure the stem post 6 at the chosen angle. As is shown in figure 7, the channel section 2 may comprise fastener apertures 10 through which the fasteners 9 may be inserted.

[58] As is substantially shown in figures 10 - 11, distal locking rings 11 may be utilised to lock the distal ends of the shell sections 3. For example, during construction, the posts 5, 6 may be inserted through respective rings 11 whereafter, once the shell sections 2 have been fastened to the posts, the locking rings 11 may be secured to the distal ends of the respective distal ends of the sections 3, 4 of the shell sections 2.

[59] In a preferred embodiment, each shell section 2 defines distal locking ring engagement mechanisms 12 as a substantially shown in figure 1.

[60] In embodiments, the engagement mechanism 12 defines a mechanical interlock allowing for the clip-type fastening of the locking rings 11 thereto. In further embodiments, the engagement mechanisms 12 define a constriction mechanism which decreases the diameter at the engagement mechanism 12 under compression when engaged by the locking ring 11 so as to securely fasten against the exterior diameter of the posts 5, 6.

[61] Specifically, as can be seen from figure 1, the inner edge of the locking mechanism 12 may define and orthogonal and inwardly facing rim 13. Correspondingly, as can be seen from figure 11, the locking ring 11 may comprise an opposite facing catch 14 which catches against the rim 13. As such, when the locking ring 11 is pressed onto the engagement mechanism 12, the catch 14 catches against the rim 13 so as to clip the locking ring 11 to the engagement mechanism 12. In other embodiments, the engagement mechanism 12 may be configured for screw-type engagement.

[62] Furthermore, as alluded to above, the engagement mechanism 12 may comprise a constriction mechanism 15 which, when compressed by the locking ring 11 flexes inwardly so as to frictionally engage against the respective post 5, 6.

[63] Specifically, as can be appreciated from figure 1, the constriction mechanism 5 comprises a substantial V-shaped cross-section such that, when compressed, naturally flexes inwardly towards the respective post 5, 6. As is correspondingly shown in figure 11, the locking ring 11 defines a channel 16 which retains the distal edge of the V-shaped cross-section and wherein, when the locking ring 11 is pressed against the engagement mechanism 12, the channel 16 applies pressure to V-shaped cross-section so as to cause the apex of the V-shaped cross-section to move inwardly to bear against the post.

[64] As is also shown in figure 1, the constriction mechanism 15 may comprise constriction allowance cutouts 23.

[65] As such, and as can be appreciated, the locking ring mechanism 11 may be conveniently pressed against the respective shell sections 2 to not only lock the shell sections 2 together but, in embodiments, also to provide frictional engagement of the distal ends of the posts 5, 6.

[66] As alluded to above, the embodiment shown in figure 1 shows halfpiece shell section 2 configured for the formation of a three-way fence connector system 1 as is substantially shown in figure 3 utilising a pair of halfpiece shell sections 2 wherein, in accordance with this embodiment, the cross-piece tubular section 3 transitions through substantially 180°.

[67] However, turning now to figure 12, there is shown a further embodiment of quarterpiece shell section 17 wherein, in accordance with this embodiment, the quarterpiece shell section 17 is characterised in the cross-piece tubular section 3 transitioning through approximately 90°. As can be appreciated, further in accordance with this embodiment, the stem tubular section 4 yet transitions through substantially 180° like the halfpiece shell embodiment 2.

[68] The quarterpiece shell section 17 allows for differing fencepost connector configurations including the four-way fencepost connector system 18 as is substantially shown in figure 14. As can be seen, the four-way fencepost connector system 18 comprises a pair of adjacent quarterpiece shell sections 17 which cooperate to accommodate distal ends of orthogonal post sections 20 with respect to distal ends of in-line post sections 19.

[69] Similarly, and as is best illustrated in figure 13, a corresponding pair of outer quarterpiece shell sections 17 may be utilised which may be closed off utilising a quarterpiece tube section 21.

[70] Figures 17 - 19 show a further utilisation of the quarterpiece shell section 17 allowing for the construction of a coplanar four-way connector system 22 wherein four quarterpiece shell sections 17 are utilised to make the four-way connector system 22. Specifically, figure 18 shows a side view of the four-way connector system 22 wherein, as can be seen, the four-way connector system 22 comprises a pair of proximal quarterpiece shell sections 17 which are located against an opposite distal corresponding pair of quarterpiece shell sections 17 so as to make the coplanar four-way connector 22.

[71] In embodiments, the shell sections 2, 17 may be manufactured separately. However, in alternative embodiments, a pair of shell sections 2 may be manufactured as a single unit separated by way of a flexible live hinge so as to allow the folding over of the shell sections 2 about the distal ends of the posts 5, 6.

[72] In embodiment, the shell sections 2, 17 and other componentry described herein may be manufactured from sufficiently durable plastic.

[73] The foregoing description, for purposes of explanation, used specific nomenclature to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that specific details are not required in order to practice the invention. Th us, the foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the invention are presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed; obviously, many modifications and variations are possible in view of the above teachings. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical applications, they thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the following claims and their equivalents define the scope of the invention.