Self-Fronting Spring Assembly for a Traffic Delineator
A spring assembly for a self-uprighting delineator. The assembly has a rotationally self-aligning cam attached to a delineator post and cooperating with an upper knuckle of the delineator to rotate the post from a misaligned rotational position to a first frontally aligned position. The cam has sloping surfaces which engage and slide along complimentary sloping surfaces on the upper knuckle under compressive forces of a spring which urges the cam and upper knuckle together. When rotational forces are withdrawn, the post will return to the first frontally aligned position
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to traffic delineator systems; and, more particularly, to an improved delineator signage alignment mechanism. More specifically, the present invention relates to a self-fronting (or aligning) spring assembly acting in cooperation with an upper load cell of a traffic delineator alignment system.
The present invention is an improvement to the traffic delineator alignment system described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,377,717, which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes. It has been noted that despite efforts to reduce the effects of vandalism to existing delineators, certain individuals continue to twist delineator signage out of proper alignment with the intended flow of traffic. When delineators are misaligned, this creates a dangerous traffic condition where vehicle operators may be inadvertently misdirected.
The present invention provides a mechanism which not only resists twisting misalignment of signage affixed to a horizontal delineator post, but provides a positive mechanism for ensuring that a twisted post returns to a proper front alignment position when the twisting movement is released or the signage is twisted beyond an approximate 180° position from the front alignment position.
Thus, a traffic delineator incorporating both the horizontal alignment mechanism of U.S. Pat. No. 7,377,717 and rotational alignment mechanism of the present invention vastly reduces the likelihood of signage misalignment in actual road/traffic conditions.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Referring now to the drawings and first to
The upper end of the lightweight post may be provided with a reflector 18 which may be attached with adhesive, bolted on or otherwise attached to the lightweight post 16 to provide reflection of light, thus permitting the post to be readily visible under night driving conditions. The post 16 and the reflector 18 may be of a suitable color enabling it to be readily visible during daylight conditions. The material composing the post 16 may comprise any one of a number of suitable lightweight polymer materials that are impact resistant. Since the post is of lightweight construction, it does not present significant resistance to impact forces when it is accidentally struck such as by an automotive vehicle. This feature prevents damage to the post and also prevents damage to the automotive vehicle as the post is accidentally struck and shifted from the upright position shown in
U.S. Pat. No. 7,377,717 teaches and discloses an uprighting mechanism which will improve the alignment of the post/signage when impacted and deflected from the horizontal position. The present invention provides a mechanism for realigning the past/signage when impact forces (accidental or intentional) create rotation about the longitudinal axis of the post.
As shown in
In the present invention, as shown in
As seen in
The upper knuckle 20 of the present invention further utilizes opposing sloping surfaces 23a and 23b, a knuckle alignment notch 25 opposite an upper knuckle apex 67 to cooperate with complementary portions of the self-fronting cam 22 (
As noted above, the post/signage is rigidly attached to the self-fronting cam 22 by fasteners 11a passing through holes 11 in the cam 22 or adhesive. As shown in detail in
As will be seen below, it is the cooperation of the sloping surfaces 23a and 23b on the upper knuckle 20 and the sloping surfaces 64a and 64b on the self-fronting cam 22 which facilitate the prevention of rotational misalignment of signage or post when these two components are urged together by the compressive force of self-fronting cam spring 24.
Cam spring 24 is shown in
The upper end 65 of spring 24 (
The body section 29 of shaft 26 extends through central opening 70 of spring 24, through central bore 60 of the cam 22, and through central bore 50 in the upper knuckle 20 when the spring assembly 110 is assembled. Cam 22 is able to move vertically up or down along body section 29 as the cam is rotated about the delineator longitudinal axis L when the post/signage is rotated.
It may be understood from a review of the figures that the upper 30 and lower 32 load elements are held together in tension by the compressive force of main delineator spring 100 and the wire cables 46a and 46b. This mechanism may be further understood in U.S. Pat. No. 7,377,717.
Various elements of the spring assembly 110 of the present invention are also held in position and alignment by these cables as seen by the figures; however, the cam 22 may rotate and move vertically about the elongated, cylindrical section 29 of self-fronting center shaft 26.
Such rotation and vertical movement, nonetheless, requires substantial force, because of the compressive urging of spring 24 which presses against the shoulder 62 in the cam 22 and against the underside, bearing surface 72 of center shaft 26. Thus, it is difficult to rotate the sign or post by twisting and when the twisting force is released, the cam 22 is urged back to the first, aligned position.
Upon rotation impact to the signage or post which is attached to the self-fronting cam 22 through fastener holes 11, the rotational force is impacted to the self-fronting cam 22. Cam 22 begins to rotate counterclockwise. Sloping cam surfaces 64a and 64b begin to slide over sloping surfaces 23a and 23b of upper knuckle 20 and cam 22 is displaced upwardly from knuckle 20. The sloping surfaces 64a, 64b, 23a, and 23b remain in contact because of the spring force from self-fronting spring 24 being transmitted to cam 22.
Upper knuckle 20 does not rotate because it is held in engagement with lower load cell element 34 by the compressive force of main delineator spring 100 and wire cables 46a and 46b. Thus, if the rotational force being imparted is withdrawn from the post or signage, self-fronting cam being urged downwardly by spring 24 will slide along the sloping surfaces, rotating back clockwise, and return to the first frontally aligned position. From this brief explanation, it would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that assembly 110 is “self-fronting.”
If however, the counterclockwise rotational impacting force is continued, the assembly 110 will move further upwardly against the downwardly urging compressive force of spring 24 as shown in
It will be understood that when the assembly 110 is in the position of
The “flip over” condition is shown in
It should be understood that if a clockwise rotational force impacts or is imparted to the post or sign, the cam 22 will rotate in a clockwise direction and operate a fashion similar to that described above. The post or signage will “self-align” when the rotational force is withdrawn or the cam “flips over” the knuckle apex 67.
Although the invention has been described with reference to a certain embodiment, this description is not meant to be construed in a limiting sense. On the contrary, various modifications of the disclosed embodiment will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the description of the invention. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims will cover such modifications, alternatives, and equivalents that fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
1. A spring assembly for a self-uprighting delineator, said delineator having a post with a longitudinal axis and upper and lower load cell elements, said load cell elements held in tension together by parallel, spaced apart, wire cables and a main delineator spring, said upper load cell element having an upper knuckle with an upper end and a lower end, said lower end cooperating with said lower load cell element to horizontally align said delineator when said post is moved from a first upright position to a second horizontally misaligned position, said spring assembly comprising:
- a self-aligning cam attached to said post, said cam having an upper end and an opposite lower end, said lower cam end cooperating with said upper end of said upper knuckle to rotate said post from a misaligned rotational position to a first frontally aligned position.
2. The spring assembly of claim 1, further comprising a compression spring engaged with said upper cam end to urge said lower cam end against said upper end of said upper knuckle to rotate said post from said misaligned rotational position to said first frontally aligned position.
3. The spring assembly of claim 2, wherein said lower cam end has sloping cam surfaces which cooperate with sloping cam surfaces on said upper end of said upper knuckle to rotate said post from said misaligned rotational position to said first frontally aligned position.
4. The spring assembly of claim 3, wherein said lower cam end has an apex 180° opposite a cam alignment notch and said upper knuckle end has an apex 180° opposite a knuckle alignment notch, said cam apex disposed within said knuckle alignment notch when said post is in said first frontally aligned position.
5. The spring assembly of claim 4, further comprising a self-fronting center shaft, said shaft having a receptacle portion for retaining said main delineator spring and a hollow, generally cylindrical, body section for the through passage of said wire cables, said body section extending through a central opening in said compressive spring, through a central bore in said cam, and through a central bore in said upper knuckle to maintain said cam in longitudinal alignment with said upper knuckle when said post is being rotated about said longitudinal axis.
International Classification: E01F 9/017 (20060101);