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United States Patent Application 20170158292
Kind Code A1
Strain; Michael June 8, 2017

FLOAT ASSEMBLY FOR A HOUSE

Abstract

A float includes a container, at least one groove formed in an outer surface of the container, and at least one vent in the container. A plurality of the floats can be connected to a support platform via an elongated connection member. The connected floats and support platform can support an inhabitable structure.


Inventors: Strain; Michael; (Munster, IN)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Strain; Michael

Munster

IN

US
Family ID: 1000002456602
Appl. No.: 15/439740
Filed: February 22, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
14871034Sep 30, 20159598154
15439740
62058175Oct 1, 2014

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: B63B 35/732 20130101; B63B 35/38 20130101
International Class: B63B 35/38 20060101 B63B035/38; B63B 35/73 20060101 B63B035/73

Claims



1. A float comprising: a container; at least one groove formed in an outer surface of the container; and at least one vent in the container.

2. The float of claim 1, wherein the container includes a top portion with a generally flat top surface and a bottom portion.

3. The float of claim 2, wherein the at least one vent is in the flat top surface.

4. The float of claim 1, wherein the container includes a top portion and a bottom portion, and wherein the bottom portion includes two longitudinal ends with each end having a protrusion extending axially therefrom.

5. The float of claim 1, wherein the container includes a top portion and a bottom portion, and wherein the at least one groove is formed around the circumference of the bottom portion.

6. The float of claim 1, wherein the container includes a top portion and a bottom portion, wherein the top portion is adjoining the bottom portion such that the top and bottom portions are continuous, wherein the top portion has a generally flat top surface and the bottom portion has a generally cylindrical shape, and wherein the at least one vent is in the flat top surface.

7. The float of claim 1, wherein the at least one vent is air permeable, but not water permeable.

8. The float of claim 1, wherein the float further comprises at least one tube assembly that extends through an aperture in the container, and wherein at least a portion of the at least one tube assembly extends into an interior of the container.

9. A float assembly comprising: a plurality of floats; and a support assembly including an elongated connection member and a support platform, wherein the elongated connection member is fixedly coupled to the support platform and to the plurality of floats.

10. The float assembly of claim 9, wherein each of the plurality of floats includes a connector that is coupled to a fastener that are each respectively received through a corresponding through hole formed in the elongated connection member, and wherein the through holes permit the received fastener to slide laterally within the through hole.

11. The float assembly of claim 9, wherein the support platform includes a plurality of crossbeams configured to support an inhabitable structure.

12. The float assembly of claim 9, wherein each of the plurality of floats has a generally flat top surface for supporting the support assembly.

13. A float system comprising: a plurality of floats; a support assembly including an elongated connection member and a support platform, wherein the elongated connection member is coupled to the support platform and to the plurality of floats; and an inhabitable structure coupled to the support platform.

14. The float system of claim 13, wherein each of the plurality of floats includes a connector that is coupled to a fastener that are each respectively received through a corresponding through hole formed in the elongated connection member, and wherein the through holes permit the received fastener to slide laterally within the through hole.

15. The float system of claim 13, wherein the support platform includes a first and second set of crossbeams, wherein the first set of crossbeams is oriented generally perpendicularly to the elongated connection member, and wherein the second set of crossbeams is oriented generally parallel to the elongated connection member.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/058,175, filed Oct. 1, 2014, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference. This application claims priority to and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/871,034, now U.S. Publication No. 2016/0096596, filed Sep. 30, 2015, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Americans live in homes of all types. More and more people are enjoying the benefits of living in houseboats. The 2000 census found some 200,000 houseboats located in the United States. Because of the anticipated increase in population it is expected that more and more people will live in houseboats. Sometimes these will be their primary home, and other times these will be used as a second home for recreation and relaxation.

[0003] The increasing demand for floating residential or other inhabited structures, such as houseboats, leaves buyers wanting more. Features usually included in land based homes are becoming desirable in houseboats. So, for instance, toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, clothes dryers, clothes washers, coffee makers, and trash compactors are a few of the amenities that people want in their houseboats.

[0004] One problem with today's houseboats is that they do not provide an easy means for handling the unwanted items in the home or space for storing the accessories that are part of the houseboat. Fecal waste and urine, for instance, are often collected in a separate container and vacuumed or siphoned off from that container when a houseboat reaches dock. The waste container serves no other purpose and takes up valuable space in the houseboat's design. Another problem is that construction of the floats for floating structures, a houseboat for example, is limited by size or shape of the houseboat if done as one piece construction.

[0005] There is a need in the industry for a float apparatus that is easily incorporated into a variety of houseboat designs, is multifunctional, and does not require new space but instead uses space that is already reserved for another purpose. A further need is for the ability to construct floats that are of various sizes and shapes to suit the needs of the houseboat and its owner.

SUMMARY

[0006] In one embodiment, the invention provides a float including a container, at least one groove formed in an outer surface of the container, and at least one vent in the container.

[0007] In another embodiment, the invention provides a float assembly including a plurality of floats and a support assembly having an elongated connection member and a support platform. The elongated connection member is fixedly coupled to the support platform and to the plurality of floats.

[0008] In another embodiment, the invention provides a float system including a plurality of floats and a support assembly having an elongated connection member and a support platform. The elongated connection member is coupled to the support platform and to the plurality of floats. The float system further includes an inhabitable structure coupled to the support platform.

[0009] Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention.

[0011] FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a second embodiment of the invention with joined floats.

[0012] FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of a third embodiment of the invention.

[0013] FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of the invention showing a float system including a structure supported on a float assembly.

[0014] FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of the invention illustrating a float assembly.

[0015] FIG. 6 shows a side view of the fifth embodiment of the invention illustrating a plurality of floats coupled to an elongated connection member, and including an enlarged view of a through hole.

[0016] FIG. 7 shows a top perspective view of the fifth embodiment of the invention illustrating a plurality of floats coupled to an elongated connection member.

[0017] FIG. 8 shows a top view of the fifth embodiment of the invention illustrating a support assembly coupled to a plurality of floats.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the invention, which includes a float 48 that has a hollow container 1, a panel 2 that may be used for instrumentation, and a tube 5 passing through the container 1 such that a portion 3 of the tube 5 is within the container 1. The tube 5 permits both the introduction and removal of material, e.g., human waste, into a storage cavity of the container 1. The container 1 has a plurality of fasteners 4 for assembly purposes.

[0019] FIG. 2 illustrates a second embodiment of the invention, which includes a float assembly 80 that includes a plurality of hollow containers 11. The plurality of containers 11 are joined together by an elongated connection member such as a stringer 12. The stringer 12 is fastened to the containers 11 by a plurality of bolts 15, or alternatively by other fasteners such as screws, adhesive, nails, or rivets. At least one container 11 of the plurality of containers 11 has a panel 14 for instrumentation. The instrumentation of the panel 14 may include electronics or analog meters that provide physical indications (e.g., temperature, water level, pressure, etc.) or that control other parts integral to the float assembly 80. In one embodiment, the instrumentation of the panel 14 includes a liquid level gauge (not illustrated). A tube 16 passes through a sealable port of one of the containers 11 such that an inside portion 13 of the tube 16 is within the container 11 for handling material. One of the containers 11 is shown to be without a tube 16 and instead has a sealable port that is sealed off with a cap 17 that in some embodiments may be air-tight or composed of a breathable material.

[0020] FIG. 3 illustrates a third embodiment of the invention, which includes a water-tight float 48. The float 48 includes a container 21 having a top portion 30 and a bottom portion 31. The float 48 is shaped so as to include surfaces configured to support a structure on the top portion 30 and to further support a stringer 12, as described in greater detail below.

[0021] FIG. 4 illustrates a fourth embodiment of the invention, which includes an inhabitable structure 40 (e.g., a house 40). The house 40 is attached, supported, and configured to be kept afloat by a plurality of attached floats 48. The floats 48 are attached to one another via an elongated metal stringer 12. The metal stringer 12 is coupled to the substantially flat side surface 76 of the attached floats 48, as described in greater detail below. The house 40 sits atop the top portion 30 of the attached floats 48 and is able to be held afloat.

[0022] As shown in FIG. 3, the float 48 includes the container 21 having the top portion 30 and the bottom portion 31, at least one vent 58, and at least one connector 60. The container 21 is preferably hollow and may provide a storage cavity as described above. In one embodiment, the container 21 may be made from a polyethylene material in a molding process. The polyethylene material provides a desirable weight to buoyancy ratio for the float 48 and expands in higher temperatures and contracts in lower temperatures. In other exemplary embodiments, the container 21 may be formed from various types of polymers or metal alloys. The container 21 may have varying lengths. In a particular embodiment, the container 21 has a longitudinal length of approximately five feet, which allows for the efficient transportation and assembly of the float 48. The five-foot longitudinal length provides a desired small size and still allows for the desired weight-to-buoyancy ratio of the float 48. The container 21 is formed to have a wall thickness substantial enough to support the weight of the structure 40 on the top portion 30 when the float 48 is in a body of water or on land. For example, when the container 21 is formed from the polyethylene material, the wall thickness of the container 21 can be between 0.125 inches and 1 inch, and may be 0.5 inches in a preferred embodiment. The wall thickness may vary further in other embodiments, particularly when the float 48 is formed from, other materials.

[0023] The bottom portion 31 of the container 21 is generally cylindrical in shape. The bottom portion 31 includes opposite ends 64 having protrusions 66 that are generally circular and that extend axially from the longitudinal ends 64 of the bottom portion 31. The protrusions 66 are configured to provide stiffness to the float 48 when the float 48 is not in a body of water. A plurality of grooves 70 are formed circumferentially into an outer surface 68 of the bottom portion 31 to provide rigidity to the float 48. For example, each of the plurality of grooves 70 can have a depth and width of 0.625 and 2 inches, respectively, and may be spaced from one another by a distance of 15.5 inches to provide the necessary rigidity to the float 48 to support the structure 40.

[0024] The top portion 30 of the container 21 has a flat, top surface 32 and flat, opposing side surfaces 76 that are oriented perpendicularly to the top surface 32. A support assembly 82 couples to the top surface 32 and the side surfaces 76, as shown in FIG. 5. The support assembly 82 in turn supports the structure 40, as explained in greater detail below. The top portion 30 of the float 48 also includes a plurality of grooves 72 and at least one connector 60 for coupling to the stringer 12, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. Each connector 60 is molded into the container 21 during the molding process of the container 21 such that the connectors 60 are flush with the side surface 76 of the top portion 30. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 5, there is one connector 60 between each groove 72 and each connector 60 is a threaded insert 60 that has internal threads (not illustrated) for threadably coupling to a fastener 62, as explained in greater detail below. In other embodiments, each connector 60 may be configured to couple the float 48 to the stringer 12 via nails, rivets, adhesives, or various other connective elements. The plurality of grooves 70 in the top portion 30 are continuous along the top surface 32 and the side surfaces 76 to provide rigidity to the float 48 as described above.

[0025] As shown in FIGS. 3 and 7, the float 48 may include at least one vent 58 formed into the flat top surface 32 of the top portion 30. This allows for the vent 58 to be located above the waterline when the float 48 is in a body of water. In other embodiments, the vent 58 may be located on other surfaces of the float 48. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the vent 58 is air permeable but not water permeable, such that the vent 58 prevents moisture from entering the interior of the float 48. The air permeability allows the air pressure to equalize between the interior of the float 48 and the atmosphere, which is important during significant changes in temperature or barometric pressure to prevent substantial expansion or contraction of the volume of the float 48. In the illustrated embodiment, a hole (not illustrated) is cut or drilled into the top portion 30 of the container 21 to provide an opening to the hollow interior of the container 21. Threads may be cut or otherwise formed in the hole so a vent insert 58 may be screwed into the hole. The vent insert 58 may be plugged, for example, with a Gore-Tex material, which is air permeable and not water permeable. Other embodiments of the float 48 may include various numbers of vents 58 and/or various shapes and sizes of the vent 58, whereby those other embodiments still allow for pressure equalization between the interior of the float 48 and the atmosphere via the vent(s) 58.

[0026] FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate a float assembly 80 including a plurality of floats 48 and a support assembly 82. The support assembly 82 includes two stringers 12 (only one stringer 12 shown on each of FIGS. 4 and 5) and a support platform 88. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 6, each stringer 12 is a rigid beam that couples the support assembly 82 to the plurality of floats 48. As shown in FIG. 6, the stringer 12 includes a plurality of laterally spaced through holes 92. The plurality of through holes 92 each receive a corresponding fastener 62 that extends into, and is threadably coupled to, a respective connector 60 of one of the plurality of floats 48 such that the stringer 12 is coupled to each of the plurality of floats 48. The through holes 92 may be circular, rectangular, or generally oval shaped, as illustrated in FIG. 6. When oval shaped, the fasteners 62 are configured to slide laterally within the through holes 92, thereby reducing the risk of disengagement between a respective float 48 and stringer 12, as explained in greater detail below. As best shown in FIG. 7, the two stringers 12 are secured to respective side surfaces 76 of each float 48 and separated by the top surface 32. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 5, a top surface 94 of the stringer 12 is substantially co-planar with the flat top surface 32 of each of the floats 48, when the stringers 12 are coupled to the plurality of floats 48.

[0027] The support platform 88 includes a plurality of latitudinal beams 100 and a plurality of longitudinal beams 102, which extend perpendicularly to the latitudinal beams 100. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the latitudinal beams 100 extend perpendicular to the stringers 12 and the longitudinal beams 102 extend parallel to the stringers 12. The latitudinal beams 100 and the longitudinal beams 102 may be a rigid material (e.g., stainless steel). A first set of fasteners 104 (e.g., bolts, screws, rivets, etc.) fixedly couples the longitudinal beams 102 to each of the latitudinal beams 100. A second set of fasteners 106 (e.g., bolts, screws, rivets, etc.) fixedly couples the latitudinal beams 100 to each of the stringers 12, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 8. A flat upper surface 108 of the plurality of longitudinal beams 102 provides a support surface for the structure 40. In other embodiments, the longitudinal beams 102 may be welded to the latitudinal beams 100, and the latitudinal beams 100 may welded to the stringers 12. In yet other embodiments, the latitudinal beams 100 may be coupled to the stringers 12 through the longitudinal beams 102 such that an upper surface of the plurality of latitudinal beams 100 provides the support surface for the structure 40.

[0028] As assembled, the float assembly 80 includes the plurality of floats 48, the support assembly 82 having stringers 12 and the support platform 88, and the structure 40 (e.g., the house). The plurality of floats 48 are coupled to one another via the stringers 12. Specifically, fasteners 62 extend through respective through holes 92 of the stringers 12 and are threadably coupled to a respective connector 60 of one of the plurality of floats 48. The oval shape of the through holes 92 allows for lateral movement of the floats 48 with respect to the stringers 12, thereby decreasing the strain on the connectors 60 and fasteners 62 and thereby decreasing the likelihood of the floats 48 from being disconnected from the stringers 12. The structure 40 is coupled to the flat upper surface 108 defined by the longitudinal beams 102 such that the support platform 88 supports the structure 40, both when the float assembly 80 is in or outside a body of water, such as during the transportation of the float assembly 80 on land. The support platform 88 can be coupled to the house 40 by various means, such as by fasteners (e.g., bolts, screws, rivets, etc.), adhesives, welding, etc.

[0029] The foregoing detailed description of certain exemplary embodiments has been provided for the purpose of explaining the general principles and practical application, thereby enabling others skilled in the art to understand the disclosure. This description is not necessarily intended to be exhaustive or to limit the disclosure to the exemplary embodiments disclosed.

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