US20080129077A1 - Tonneau cover - Google Patents

Tonneau cover Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080129077A1
US20080129077A1 US10/940,561 US94056104A US2008129077A1 US 20080129077 A1 US20080129077 A1 US 20080129077A1 US 94056104 A US94056104 A US 94056104A US 2008129077 A1 US2008129077 A1 US 2008129077A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
frame
cover
panels
bows
tonneau cover
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US10/940,561
Inventor
Ross Weldy
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Advantage Truck Accessories Inc
Original Assignee
Ross Weldy
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Ross Weldy filed Critical Ross Weldy
Priority to US10/940,561 priority Critical patent/US20080129077A1/en
Publication of US20080129077A1 publication Critical patent/US20080129077A1/en
Assigned to ADVANTAGE TRUCK ACCESSORIES, INC. reassignment ADVANTAGE TRUCK ACCESSORIES, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: WELDY, ROSS
Assigned to ARES CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT reassignment ARES CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: ADVANTAGE TRUCK ACCESSORIES, INC.
Assigned to AMERICAN CAPITAL, LTD., AS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT reassignment AMERICAN CAPITAL, LTD., AS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENT PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: ADVANTAGE TRUCK ACCESSORIES, INC.
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60JWINDOWS, WINDSCREENS, NON-FIXED ROOFS, DOORS, OR SIMILAR DEVICES FOR VEHICLES; REMOVABLE EXTERNAL PROTECTIVE COVERINGS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR VEHICLES
    • B60J7/00Non-fixed roofs; Roofs with movable panels, e.g. rotary sunroofs
    • B60J7/08Non-fixed roofs; Roofs with movable panels, e.g. rotary sunroofs of non-sliding type, i.e. movable or removable roofs or panels, e.g. let-down tops or roofs capable of being easily detached or of assuming a collapsed or inoperative position
    • B60J7/12Non-fixed roofs; Roofs with movable panels, e.g. rotary sunroofs of non-sliding type, i.e. movable or removable roofs or panels, e.g. let-down tops or roofs capable of being easily detached or of assuming a collapsed or inoperative position foldable; Tensioning mechanisms therefor, e.g. struts
    • B60J7/14Non-fixed roofs; Roofs with movable panels, e.g. rotary sunroofs of non-sliding type, i.e. movable or removable roofs or panels, e.g. let-down tops or roofs capable of being easily detached or of assuming a collapsed or inoperative position foldable; Tensioning mechanisms therefor, e.g. struts with a plurality of rigid plate-like elements or rigid non plate-like elements, e.g. with non-slidable, but pivotable or foldable movement
    • B60J7/141Non-fixed roofs; Roofs with movable panels, e.g. rotary sunroofs of non-sliding type, i.e. movable or removable roofs or panels, e.g. let-down tops or roofs capable of being easily detached or of assuming a collapsed or inoperative position foldable; Tensioning mechanisms therefor, e.g. struts with a plurality of rigid plate-like elements or rigid non plate-like elements, e.g. with non-slidable, but pivotable or foldable movement for covering load areas, e.g. for pick-up trucks

Abstract

A tonneau cover assembly is provided having a plurality of substantially rigid panels inserted between the fabric and the bows and then locked into place and/or supported by snap-fit elements connecting to the peripheral frame of the tonneau cover. The snap-fit elements can also serve to positively locate the bows with respect to the frame. The panels can be closely dimensioned with respect to the distance across the frame or spaced somewhat to accommodate insertion about frame hinges and/or close fitting fabric, bows and frames. Two sided adhesive tape can be used between the panels and the snap-fit elements and the bows to maintain panel placement in the event that the assembly is to be a permanent aspect of the tonneau cover. Panels can also be perforated for weight reduction and/or cost savings without significant loss of theft security. Panels can be padded for impact absorption without permanent deformation so as to maintain tonneau cover attractiveness despite significant wear and tear during use.

Description

    BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to fabric and frame enclosures and, more particularly, to tonneau covers for pick-up trucks. This invention is an improvement upon the invention disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/286,711, filed on Nov. 4, 2002, the specification of which is incorporated by reference herein. The invention of that prior patent application was embodied in the Torza Top tonneau cover product made and sold by Advantage Company of Elkhart, Ind.
  • In general, prior tonneau covers have been of two types: hard and soft. Soft covers have been essentially formed from a fabric cover mounted over a metal frame. The frame typically extends about the periphery of the pick-up truck bed. The fabric can be vinyl or cloth or other flexible material, usually one that is waterproof or water resistant. The fabric can be a single cut piece or multiple pieces sewn together. Multiple pieces can be less costly to produce that a single cut piece, but have occasionally had the disadvantage of seam leakage. Coatings or special assembly can be used to reduce seam leakage, but that can add to production costs and may wear off in time.
  • The frame in fabric tonneau covers has typically been formed from an aluminum extrusion or steel angle iron. Such extrusions are lighter in weight and not prone to rust as compared to angle iron, but may be more costly to produce. Extrusions are typically hollow or open core in nature. In either case, the frame is typically removably clamped or bolted to the side walls of the pick-up truck bed and the fabric is secured to the frame or to the side walls of the pick-up truck bed. Cross beams or bows extending over the open area of the pick-up truck bed, usually from side to side, are typically secured to the frame and serve to support the fabric over the pick-up truck bed. The bows can be mounted into the hollow or open areas of extrusions or connected to the angle iron by a flange or fastener arrangement. Such bow mountings can be permanent or removable depending on whether the tonneau frame is intended to be disassembled upon removal from the pick-up truck or stored in a fully assembled form.
  • In contrast, hard covers are typically formed with a metal, fiberglass or other rigid panel member or series of members that are often permanently connected to a peripheral frame. The frame and cover are them removably mounted to the side walls of the pick-up truck bed, frequently as a completed unit after initial assembly. In many cases, hard covers tend to be generally flat or slightly bowed across the opening of the pick-up truck bed, as compared with the somewhat more bowed appearance of soft covers. By comparison to soft covers, hard covers tend to be heavier in weight and take up more storage space when removed from the pick-up truck. This extra weight and/or the bulkier size of hard covers frequently requires at least two persons to remove and/or install the cover. By comparison, some soft covers can be removed or installed by a single person.
  • Hard cover and soft cover tonneau covers also differ in other features. Hard covers tend to be more waterproof and resistant of theft of pick-up truck bed contents. Hard covers tend to withstand greater loads from snow or items/persons placed on top of the tonneau cover. Hard covers are less prone to tearing and puncture damage in general than many soft covers. Hard covers are less prone to deformation at higher speeds of travel and, thus may provide some benefits to vehicle fuel efficiency in that regard as well as to overall product durability and longevity. On the other hand, hard covers do not typically have a “soft” look and feel, such as that resembling a convertible top automobile. Moreover, the lighter weight of soft covers can benefit overall vehicle fuel economy more in that way. Given the tremendous variety in hard and soft covers, it is hard to say that one or the other will normally be less expensive, but in general the price range of soft covers goes lower than hard covers. Accordingly, tonneau cover users may start out with a soft cover, but over time may desire to upgrade to a hard cover.
  • Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide improved tonneau cover assemblies. More particularly, objectives of the present invention include providing soft cover tonneaus with many of the advantages of hard covers, but without some of the drawbacks of hard covers. For example, those objectives would include greater durability and theft protection, greater water resistance, better fuel economy from shape maintenance, and larger load endurance while keeping costs and overall weight low and maintaining a soft look and feel and ease of installation and removal. At the same time, it is an objective of the present invention to be able to provide these advantages both prospectively to new tonneau covers and ones already in use. Further, it is an objective of the present application to enable application of these advantages to other fabric and frame enclosures, just as tents, caravans, awnings, patio covers and the like.
  • These and other objects of the present invention are obtained by the provision of a tonneau cover assembly having a plurality of substantially rigid panels inserted between the fabric and the bows and then locked into place and/or supported by snap-fit elements connecting to the peripheral frame of the tonneau cover. The snap-fit elements can also serve to positively locate the bows with respect to the frame. The panels can be closely dimensioned with respect to the distance across the frame or spaced somewhat to accommodate insertion about frame hinges and/or close fitting fabric, bows and frames. Two sided adhesive tape can be used between the panels and the snap-fit elements and the bows to maintain panel placement in the event that the assembly is to be a permanent aspect of the tonneau cover. Panels can also be perforated for weight reduction and/or cost savings without significant loss of theft security. Panels can be padded for impact absorption without permanent deformation so as to maintain tonneau cover attractiveness despite significant wear and tear during use. Other objects, advantages and novel features of the present invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 shows an upper left rear, perspective schematic view of an exemplary pick-up truck with a tonneau cover mounted thereto over its bed according to the teaching of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 shows a bottom plan view of an exemplary tonneau cover incorporating the teachings of the present invention as fully assembled.
  • FIG. 3 shows a bottom plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 in partial assembly.
  • FIG. 4 shows a bottom plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 with full central section disassembly.
  • FIG. 5 shows a partial cross sectional view along line 5-5 of the embodiment of FIG. 2.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • FIGS. 1-5 show a preferred embodiment of the present invention as applied to a pick-up truck tonneau cover. It should be understood that the principles of the invention can also be applied to other enclosures and structures having fabric or flexible material covering a frame with a peripheral rail spanned by cross members.
  • FIG. 1 shows a conventional pick-up truck 10 having a passenger compartment 12 and a bed portion 14 defined typically by four side walls 16, inclusive of the tail gate 18. A tonneau cover 20 is mounted over the pick-up truck bed, preferably fully enclosing the bed and restricting access thereto and exposure to the exterior environment. FIGS. 2-4 show an exemplary tonneau cover 20 in reduced size. Commercially available tonneau covers would, for example, employ the same type of components with a dimensionally larger frame and cover. Preferably, tonneau cover 20 is of the soft cover type having a peripheral frame 22 covered by a flexible material cover 24, such as waterproof or water resistant fabric or vinyl or an automotive convertible top fabric such as acrylic DAN sold by Haartz Corp. of Acton, Mass., with cross members or bows 26 and 28 spanning the sides of frame 22. The structure of the above-mentioned Torza-Top is especially preferred for the tonneau cover and is described in detail in the prior patent application. In such embodiments, the cover is foldable into three sections by hinges 29, bows 26 incorporate clamping means 27 to secure the tonneau cover to the vehicle and bows 28 span the frame to maintain the shape of cover 24.
  • The present invention includes means for securing panels 30 in place between bows 26 and 28 and cover 24. Panels 30 are, for example, formed from lightweight, substantially rigid materials such as an aluminum and polypropylene laminate or a substantially rigid surface substrate such as a five laminate composite available from Flex-Form Technologies of Elkhart, Ind. The panels are designed to be sufficiently strong and rigid as to support whatever load is needed on the cover from snow or, if desired, any other weight placed on the cover during use expected. At the same time, the panels would preferably have some flexibility to facilitate insertion into the cover, as described below. Also, the panels should be of sufficient strength to resist puncture or breakage that would normally be involved in a trespasser attempting to break through the cover to steal objects in the pick-up truck bed. In preferred embodiments, the panels may also be formed to have a padded top surface or separate padding adjacent the top of the panel so as to absorb impacts to the cover without showing dents. Such padding can also be used if it is desired to provide greater insulation over the bed of the pick-up truck. For cost and/or weight savings, the panels may be perforated or formed as a web having relatively small openings therein.
  • Panels 30 are shaped so as to fit between the top surface of bows 26 and 28 and the bottom surface of cover 24 and extend as close as possible to the interior edges of peripheral frame 22. With the flexible materials usually used for covers 24, there may be sufficient “give” or slack between the cover and the bows and frame to fit panels 30 into place without changing the dimensions of the bows or frame, especially as the material of covers 24 can tend to stretch. In placing the panels into the tonneau cover, bows 26 and 28 can often be conveniently removed and then replaced so that panels 30 are, in effect, clamped between the bows and the covers 24. In preferred embodiments multiple panels 30 are used in a given tonneau cover, with at least one bow supporting each panel.
  • In other embodiments, panels 30 may need to be dimensioned slightly smaller than the width or length of the cover between the interior sides of frame 22, as, for example, where there is little slack in cover 24 and/or there is extra padding used between the panels and cover 24 and/or where hinges 29 need to be fit around and/or where the extrusion or angle iron used for peripheral frame 22 has a more inwardly extending lower ledge than its upper ledge. The specific dimensions of the panels will, however, be readily understood by those skilled in the art from the specific application of the panels. For example, where bows 26 and 28 have a given curvature, the panels will also preferably conform to that curvature so that the completed appearance of the tonneau cover is consistent, smooth and attractive. Conforming to the curvature also permits the panels to reduce cover deformation due to wind stresses, as found, for example, in high speed vehicle travel.
  • Once panels 30 are in place and bows 26 and 28 positioned under them, snap-fit elements 32 are preferably used to secure the arrangement and provide additional panel support. The configuration of elements 32 are, for example, dictated by the particular extrusions or angle iron used for peripheral frame 22. Typically, extrusions for frame 22 are hollow or open sided as shown by extrusion 34 in FIG. 5. Openings 36, 38 and 40 are provided in that exemplary extrusion. Opening 36 serves to receive a bead or enlarged area 42 at the periphery of cover 24 to attach cover 34 to frame 22. Openings 38 and 38 were previously unused except in extrusion fabrication, but can be used to advantage with the present invention. Each of those openings includes lips 44, often to enhance extrusion rigidity. Elements 32 are formed to include tabs 46 to releaseably engage lips 44 and attach elements 32 to extrusion 34. Elements 32 are, for example, formed from PVC material and have sufficient flexibility to permit tabs 46 to flex upon insertion past lips 44 and then snap back into place to resist removal from the extrusion. Various other configurations of snap-fit elements 32 can be used to correspond to what ever extrusion or angle iron forms frame 22. If necessary, for example, perforations can be made in a smooth walled angle iron side to receive snap-fit projections from elements 32.
  • Snap-fit elements 32 also preferably include a support ledge 48 on the upper portion for receiving an edge 50 of panel 30. As shown in FIG. 5, edge 50 abuts up against the interior side of extrusion 34. However, in other embodiments, panel 30 can be dimensioned so that edge 50 is spaced apart from extrusion 34 by ¼ inch or more, as needed in a given application. Preferably, however, ledge 48 receives and engages at least a portion of edge 50 so as to provide greater panel support and stability that would be provided merely by the bows. Although padding is not shown explicitly in FIG. 5, it should be understood from the discussion above that the padding could be placed between panel 30 and cover 24 with the same effect, especially if compressed at ledge 48.
  • The present invention can be a temporary or permanent feature of the tonneau cover. FIG. 2, for example, shows the embodiment of the invention as fully assembled. FIG. 3 shows the embodiment partially assembled with one of the non-clamping bows 28 being twisted out of the side extrusions 34 and the snap-fit elements adjacent, but not attached to those extrusions. Bows 28 are, for example, formed with end tabs 52 that are closely fit into openings 40 of extrusions 34 to retain the bows to peripheral frame 22. Once bows 28 are fit within extrusions 34, snap-fit elements 32, if formed to fully span the length between the bows, can serve to prevent sliding of the bows along the extrusions. FIG. 4 shows the embodiment with one panel fully removed and illustrates the cut-outs 54 in the panel that can be used to accommodate various hinges and other hardware used with a given tonneau cover frame.
  • In those applications where the panels are to be a permanent feature of the tonneau cover, two sided tape or other adhesive can be applied to ledge 48 and the top surfaced of bows 26 and 28 so as to retain panels 30 to those members. Two sided tape, for example, does not totally preclude removal of a panel from the tonneau cover, as, for example, if some repair was needed, but does restrict inadvertent removal and reduce shifting due to vibrations common to vehicular use.
  • With the present invention, it has been found that the major benefits of a hard cover tonneau (security, durability, fuel economy, load support, for example) can be obtained with the look and feel of a soft cover tonneau, and yet at lower production costs, less weight, with easier installation and removal. Further, with the present invention certain effects of seam leakage in the cover can be reduced because of the intervention of the panel directing leakage to the sides. Although the present invention has been described above with respect specific and preferred embodiments, that was done by way of illustration and example only. It should be clearly understood that the spirit and scope of the present invention is limited only by the terms of the claims defined below.

Claims (5)

1. A pick-up truck tonneau cover comprising:
a peripheral frame mountable to the pick up truck,
a flexible cover mounted to the frame,
at least one bow spanning the interior of the frame under the cover, and
at least one substantially rigid panel mounted between at least one bow and the cover.
2. The cover according to claim 1 further including members attachable to the frame for engaging an edge area of the panel below the cover so as to restrain the panel between the member and the cover.
3. The cover according to claim 2 wherein the members are formed so as to releasably engage the frame via a snap-fit.
4. In an enclosure formed from a flexible cover mounted over a peripheral frame with at least one bow spanning the interior of the frame, the improvement comprising a substantially rigid panel mounted between the bow and the cover.
5. The invention according to claim 4 further including a snap-fit element mounted to the frame for supporting an edge portion of the panel.
US10/940,561 2004-09-13 2004-09-13 Tonneau cover Abandoned US20080129077A1 (en)

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US10/940,561 US20080129077A1 (en) 2004-09-13 2004-09-13 Tonneau cover
US11/555,357 US7384090B1 (en) 2004-09-13 2006-11-01 Foldable tonneau cover

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US11/555,357 Continuation-In-Part US7384090B1 (en) 2004-09-13 2006-11-01 Foldable tonneau cover

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US11/555,357 Active US7384090B1 (en) 2004-09-13 2006-11-01 Foldable tonneau cover

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US20100038926A1 (en) * 2008-08-14 2010-02-18 Williamson Scott A Clamp mechanism for a cover assembly
US20100270824A1 (en) * 2009-04-24 2010-10-28 Cyc Engineering, Inc. Clamp structure for tonneau cover
US20110260493A1 (en) * 2009-10-27 2011-10-27 Enli Xu Locking device of car covers for pick-up trucks
US8511736B2 (en) 2011-07-12 2013-08-20 Rugged Liner, Inc. Rigid tonneau cover and clamp mechanism therefor
US20130307287A1 (en) * 2012-05-17 2013-11-21 Shi Hang Tonneau cover locking clamping method and apparatus
US20130341960A1 (en) * 2012-06-22 2013-12-26 Specialty Vehicle Acquisition Corporation Pickup truck bed tonneau cover support structure and method
US8632114B2 (en) 2011-04-28 2014-01-21 Cyc Engineering, Inc. Composite tonneau cover of pick-up truck
US9545835B2 (en) * 2014-10-07 2017-01-17 Extang Corporation Tonneau cover system and clamp
US9555735B2 (en) 2015-01-08 2017-01-31 Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. Molded tonneau cover apparatus
US9776562B2 (en) 2014-09-15 2017-10-03 Rugged Liners, Inc. Roll-up tonneau cover having a tensioning mechanism and a sideways latch
US9827839B2 (en) * 2014-10-31 2017-11-28 Rugged Liner, Inc. Tonneau cover system having a latch
US9908391B2 (en) 2014-09-15 2018-03-06 Rugged Liner, Inc. Adjustable tensioning mechanism for a soft roll up tonneau cover
US9969249B2 (en) 2016-09-20 2018-05-15 Truxedo, Inc. Tonneau cover system with side rail mounted latches and a rear header mounted release actuator
US10189339B2 (en) 2016-07-27 2019-01-29 Rugged Liner, Inc. Tonneau cover system for a cargo bed of a vehicle
US10286765B2 (en) 2016-10-28 2019-05-14 Rugged Liner, Inc. Tonneau cover system for a cargo bed of a vehicle

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US20080129077A1 (en) * 2004-09-13 2008-06-05 Ross Weldy Tonneau cover
US20090236870A1 (en) * 2008-03-19 2009-09-24 Antonio Emanuel Duncan Tailgate storable tonneau cover
US8960764B2 (en) 2012-08-13 2015-02-24 Extang Corporation Tonneau cover locking spring clamp
US8814249B2 (en) * 2012-10-26 2014-08-26 Steven Rossi System for securing a truck bed cover
US20150239388A1 (en) * 2012-12-06 2015-08-27 Dennis Jay Potter Tonneau cover system for vehicles
US8973969B1 (en) * 2012-12-06 2015-03-10 Dennis Jay Potter Tonneau cover system for vehicles
US9061572B2 (en) 2013-10-11 2015-06-23 Dennis Jay Potter Perimeter seal for vehicle tonneau cover
US9827838B2 (en) 2015-02-13 2017-11-28 Bos Automotive Products, Inc. Automated soft tonneau cover
WO2018156921A1 (en) 2017-02-24 2018-08-30 Bos Automotive Products, Inc. Automated rigid tonneau cover
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Cited By (29)

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US8146982B2 (en) * 2008-08-14 2012-04-03 Rugged Liner Clamp mechanism for a cover assembly
US8256824B2 (en) 2008-08-14 2012-09-04 Rugged Liner Clamp mechanism for a cover assembly
US7823957B2 (en) 2008-08-14 2010-11-02 Rugged Liner Clamp mechanism for a cover assembly
US20110084515A1 (en) * 2008-08-14 2011-04-14 Rugged Liner Clamp mechanism for a cover assembly
US20100038926A1 (en) * 2008-08-14 2010-02-18 Williamson Scott A Clamp mechanism for a cover assembly
US7905536B2 (en) * 2009-04-24 2011-03-15 Cyc Engineering, Inc. Clamp structure for tonneau cover
US20100270824A1 (en) * 2009-04-24 2010-10-28 Cyc Engineering, Inc. Clamp structure for tonneau cover
US8366173B2 (en) * 2009-10-27 2013-02-05 Enli Xu Locking device of car covers for pick-up trucks
US20110260493A1 (en) * 2009-10-27 2011-10-27 Enli Xu Locking device of car covers for pick-up trucks
US8632114B2 (en) 2011-04-28 2014-01-21 Cyc Engineering, Inc. Composite tonneau cover of pick-up truck
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