This application claims the benefit of U. S. Provisional Application No. 60/598,757, filed 4 August 2004.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to the field of devices used to apply liquids to animals, equipment and vehicles. More particularly, the invention discloses the use of a substantially rigid, moveable or articulating, and cantilevered sleeve or hollow tube, conformed and sized to allow insertion and passage of a substantially flexible tube, or hose, through the hollow tube to support and position the water delivery end of the flexible hose in an elevated location favorable to washing of animals or other articles.
Particularly in the areas of livestock care and machine maintenance there are many occasions where a simple, versatile apparatus is needed to deliver water for a washing procedure. Many livestock operations, ranches and farms operate under space and/or budget restraints requiring them to make an area multi-functional and/or the commercial equipment employed economical. For example, within a typical horse barn there could be stalls configured on either side of a central walkway extending the length of the barn or enclosure. The walkway may used for walking a horse to and from the stall, grooming, harnessing, shoeing, veterinary care, and moving bedding, feed, water, waste and equipment. Daily grooming of cattle is generally not as necessary as for horses, unless the cattle are to be presented in a livestock show. Dairy or beef cattle are not generally housed in stalls but allowed indoor/outdoor free range to and from the barn to a pasture or feed area. However, there is typically a multi¬ function area within or near the milking barn or feed area used for animal care and washing, and equipment maintenance. Similar multi-function areas are common in other types of livestock operations such as llamas, sheep, goats and swine, and in commercial pet care. Cleanliness of the animals is paramount at a livestock sale or judging competition. Sale barns typically have to provide versatile pens or stalls for temporary housing of livestock prior to sale, and an area where the animals can be groomed prior to showing in the sale ring.
Livestock competitions encompass a broad range of activities from international shows and racing events, to regional competitions, to country fairs and school pet shows.
The care and maintenance of animals and other types of husbandry typically employs powered machines to grow and harvest crops, and move or transport farm products or other machinery. These machines, i.e., vehicles, trailers, tractors, crop planting and harvesting units, in turn, must also be routinely maintained to perform their function. Maintenance of machines typically comprises mechanical repair and cleaning. Of course, owning animals is not a prerequisite to owning a car, truck, tractor, bus, ATV, motorcycle or other apparatus that needs to be periodically cleaned. Cleaning and maintenance remain a primary concern for the machine owner considering the economic investment and necessity for functional reliability.
Whether cleaning animals, machines or other articles, water must be supplied to the cleaning area. One of the most economical ways to supply water is through a flexible tube or hose. The common garden or utility hose is frequently employed to provide this supply. The advantages of the garden hose include, but are not limited to light weight, low cost, flexibility and multi-purpose use. The disadvantage is that this grade of hose is fairly easily damaged by driving over it, dropping objects on it, or animals walking on it. To reduce damage to the hose it can be made of stronger and more durable materials. But, generally the more robust the hose, the more it weighs and costs. In addition, as the thickness and strength of the hose increase, generally flexibility is reduced making it harder to handle, particularly in colder weather. Hoses maintaining some degree of flexibility in colder weather are available but at a generally increased cost. Thus the standard garden hose from the hardware or box store attached to a hose bibb or faucet has become ubiquitous for casual cleaning. But the hose snaking along the ground from the source remains vulnerable to animal and machine damage, and presents a safety hazard. For example, a common way to wash a horse is to remove it from the stall and tether its bridal in a barn walkway. A nozzle is attached to the free end of a garden hose and the hose is dragged to the animal where water is applied during the cleaning process. Since the animal is tethered so that it is substantially
stationary, the hose is dragged around the animal on the ground where it is cumbersome and presents a safety hazard for the person and the animal, and may be damaged by the heavy weight or shoe of the horse. When the operator needs to stop spraying water, typically the end is dropped to the ground, necessitating locating, bending and stooping to retrieve it each time. When finished, the hose may be left on the ground or manually wound on a holder on a nearby wall. A similar method, with similar problems, is frequently employed for washing an automobile or machinery.
Mechanically inclined individuals have attempted to solve the problems of economy, convenience and safety in a variety of ways for more than one hundred years.
U.S. Patent No. 257,596 to Mond (1882), discloses a stationary 'stock bath' utilizing fixed water supply metal piping and nozzles installed in a dedicated 'pen-like' area of a shed, barn or other structure. The animal is led through an access door into the pen, or wash room, and when washed exits forward through another door. This through-movement minimizes time per animal in the wash room and maximizes throughput by animal flow in one direction. However, this method requires dedicated and custom water piping installation, which does not utilize any flexible delivery components, and would thus be primarily used for large herds requiring periodic cleaning or insecticide treatments. Whereas the present invention provides an elevated water delivery through a moveable support apparatus such that the support may be rotated out of the way and the area used for another purpose or function. In addition, the water supply does not require an investment in dedicated water piping since the garden hose may be easily removed from the support for use in other endeavors.
U.S. Patent Nos. 799,682 and 790,005 to Smelser (1905), and U.S. Pat. No. 883,132 to Goff (1908), disclose livestock spraying devices installed in animal chutes. Chutes are routinely used in livestock operations to funnel livestock into and out of pens and transports. It appears that the device of Smelser may be retrofit to existing chutes. These devices provide stationary piping supplying for over-and-under spray to the animal as it traverses the chute. As above, these devices require dedicated and custom water piping installation which do not utilize any flexible delivery components, and would thus be primarily
used for large herds requiring periodic cleaning or insecticide treatments. By comparison, the present invention not only provides an elevated water delivery but a moveable support apparatus which may be rotated out of the way allowing the area to be multifunctional. Similarly, the water supply does not require an investment in dedicated water piping since the garden hose may be removed for other uses.
U.S. Patent 832,475 to George (1906) discloses a so-called window cleaner comprising a variety of cleaning heads attached to a rigid hand-held pipe connected to a water supply through a flexible hose. Similarly, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,532,251 to Whitmire et al (1950) and 3,529,577 to McMenemy (1970) disclose rigid spraying apparatus for treating livestock supplied by a flexible hose. Being hand-held, these devices and their attachments could be used on animals or machinery. However, the operator must be able to hold and support the weight of the devices during use. In addition, the units left lying on the ground when not in use, or the flexible supply hoses, each present the same safety and damage issues described above. The present invention avoids these disadvantages by proving support for the water delivery hose thereby reducing the fatigue of the operator. In addition, the water supply is elevated at the delivery end and contained in a support that restricts the location of the hose at or near ground level at the supply end keeping the hose out from underneath the feet of the operator or animal.
U.S. Patent Nos. 1 ,879,915 to Smoot (1932) and 5,662,069 to Smith (1997) show portable animal bathing devices wherein the movement of the animal is restricted so that it is favorably located under the dedicated main water spray pipe of '915, or within the enclosure of '069. The supply may also contain added detergent from a supply reservoir. The invention of U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,144 to Cole (1989) provided only the addition of a recirculating pump as an improvement. The animal must still be restrained to catch the water for recirculation. Whereas, the present invention does not generally require such animal restriction unless water recovery is an issue. In addition, the water delivery end of the present invention is supported by the apparatus and therefore does not have to be held by the operator reducing fatigue and enabling easier movement of the hose end because it can move in a wide radius from its support.
Optimal positioning is not an issue since the operator controls the location of the support and therefore the delivery hose. Similarly, the problems of maintaining additional mechanical means for delivery of detergents, insecticides or other washing additives is eliminated since the operator may apply them by hand. And use of the common garden hose permits the option of attachment of various additive delivery devices at the whim of the operator.
Additional improvements in devices to spray animals have been disclosed over the years: U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,684,658 to Richardson et al. (1954); 3,108,574 to Albers (1963); 3,699,928 to Cowan (1972); 4,987,861 to Lemire et al (1991); 5,493,996 to Verschuere et al (1996); 5,758,603 to Vivier (1998); 6,651 ,589 to Greeson (2003); U.S. Pat. App. 2005/0005872 from Greeson (2005); and U.K. Pat. App. GB 2,063,637 disclose dedicated piping and control installations in chute-like configurations to deliver sprays to animals with increasing degrees of automatic control. A variation on stationary fluid delivery is described in U. S. Pat. No.
3,170,171 to Mayhew et al (1965) whereby a rigid loop provided with a plurality of outlets along the loop allows water to spray therefrom into a pattern pleasing to playful individuals and pets. The invention comprises a substantially rigid and stationary water delivery system requiring pass-through of the individual. Whereas, the present invention allows the animal or machine to be substantially stationary, the water delivery to be overhead and flexible, and the operator to control the direction of any spray.
Cleaning and washing of vehicles and machinery have presented similar problems to the individual. Inventions addressing this need have had a similar progression from stationary piping adapted to spraying water directly from openings in pipe, i.e., U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,183,391 to Mason (1916) and 1,842,099 to Johnson (1929); to the track mounted spray apparatus of U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,465,562 to Hopper et al (1949); 2,648,342 of Vani et al (1953); 2,788,009 of Lones (1957); and 6,679,275 of Heinze et al (2004). Compared to the present invention, these inventions have disadvantages similar to the animal washing apparatus above. These devices require dedicating piping and installation in a chute-like space with the associated higher cost and single functionality.
As automation control of the process of washing cars has progressed,
delivery of water solutions to the vehicle surfaces has become more sophisticated with the incorporation of rotating wands having a spray head or nozzle to direct or disperse water delivery, as in U.S. Pat. No. 2,896,644 to Emanuel (1959); 6,394,370 to Payne et al (2002); and 6,807,973 to Fratello et al (2004). The rotating wand for delivery of water to vehicle surfaces may have been an adaptation of crop spraying apparatus. However, these devices are configured in a chute-like design, with dedicated use of the piping and space, and have other disadvantages similar to the car-washing apparatus detailed above. In addition, these devices require a large economic investment in space and machinery and therefore require volume through-put to sustain the cost of operation.
All references cited herein are incorporated by their entireties. The initial use of an elevated placement for a flexible garden-type hose to provide water to wash animals and the like may have occurred simply by throwing one end of a hose over a convenient tree limb or barn rafter. The advantage is that no additional expenditure is required and the hose, not in a dedicated configuration, may be easily used for other purposes. However, the disadvantage is that the vertical hose is not protected and controlled within a housing as in the present invention, nor is it secured in a movable support arm for control and convenience.
A further improvement of the simple overhead hose for washing was the adaptation of the flexible hose housed in an overhead retractable reel housing. This configuration is widely seen today in vehicle maintenance garages for delivery of refillable fluids directly to the vehicle port, such as oil and antifreeze. The advantage is that the hose, and therefore the water or other fluid, is readily available by reaching upwards and pulling down the hose for use. When finished, the hose would retract either mechanically or electrically into the housing. The disadvantages obviated by the present invention are that this configuration requires purchase of the expensive hose and reel unit, permanent installation and location of the housing, and a dedicated plumbing installation for water or other fluid supply.
The use of a hand-held wand to deliver water or other liquid during washing or treatment is disclosed as the window cleaner apparatus in U.S. Pat.
No. 832,475 in 1906 and again as a spray treating apparatus for livestock in U.S. Pat. No. 2,532,251 (1950), also described above. A wand attached to a flexible hose for washing automobiles is well known in manual car washes in the United States. This single wand may also have been an adaptation of herbicide and insecticide application apparatus. The car wash installation of the wand on the end of a flexible hose is further configured to have the other end of the flexible hose connected to a moveable overhead boom comprised of a hollow tube or pipe that is fastened usually to a lateral wall or post support and pivots. For this configuration, the water or solution is piped directly from the supply through the hollow boom and out into the wand. But this configuration requires that the wand and hose be purchased solely for that installation, stay permanently in place, and be solely dedicating to that use. These are economic and functional limitations obviated by the present invention. The present invention only requires that for optimal use the hose support should be fixedly installed in a substantially vertical position. If installed on a post or next to a wall and unobstructed, the support may be rotated in an arc of more than 180 degrees. The length of the horizontal boom portion may be variable which may depend upon the needs of the individual. Typically, the support is installed attached to a wall with enough clearance from the floor to allow the hose to be inserted through a lateral port or the pen end. Once installed, a garden hose or other flexible tube may be inserted into the support and threaded out the other end. An additional advantage of the present invention is protection of the hose in the support housings. Protected within the support, the hose will not be exposed to damage by abrasions or crushing. An object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for convenient washing of an animal, machine or the like using a common garden- type hose and which does not require that the garden-type hose be permanently attached thereto, and that the hose can be easily put to another use.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a convenient elevation and control of a multi-purpose garden-type hose for washing an animal, machinery and the like.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a versatile but economical wash apparatus that can be mounted inside or out to a vertical
support or configured to be secured in the ground.
A further object of the present invention is to provide adjustable vertical height and/or adjustable horizontal distance of the support members to further increase the functionality of the invention. A further object of the present invention is to provide a hose support that may be conveniently moved to another location. By the present invention this may be accomplished by securing a mounting frame to a wall or post, or configuring the mounting frame to have an extension portion that would be secured in the ground. Thus two or more mounting frames could be installed at a location. The hose support would be configured with reversible attachments to engage the mounting frame but would still be able to pivot. To move the hose support, it would be disengaged from one mounting frame and re-engaged on another.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a range of movement by pivoting of the elevated garden-type hose to increase the ease and range of use of the hose as the operator moves around the object.
A further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus to elevate and locate a water supply for washing animals, machines and the like, which apparatus can be pivoted or retracted when not in use thereby allowing other uses of the space where articles are washed or medicated, and other uses of the garden-type hose as well.
A further object of the present invention is to secure or control the location of the hose at the floor and within the support housing, thus eliminating the need to pick up the hose and roll or bunch it up after every use and find proper storage out from underfoot.
A further object of the present invention is to protect the hose from damage to make it last longer.
A further object of the present invention is to improve the safe use of a garden-type hose by locating it away from mechanical crushing or livestock trampling or tangling, in a vertical support and elevated overhead.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is directed to a washing apparatus comprising an
enclosed support for a common garden-type hose which controls, elevates and protects the hose, and allows it to pivot in an arc to increase the range of motion and use. The hose support is further comprised of a substantially hollow rigid material having a first end and a second end which will accept the introduction within and through-put of a flexible hose to emerge from the support for water delivery through the end of the hose. The hose support may also be further attached to a support member for vertical placement and on which it may perform the pivot action.
In a preferred embodiment, the horizontal hose support portion is configured of hollow tubing utilizing a substantially ninety degree radius to make the transition from vertical to horizontal support and return to vertical to direct the drop of the hose. This hose support is reversibly attached to a support member comprised of hollow tubing of a diameter greater than the horizontal support. The vertical and rotational movement of the horizontal support is controlled by placement of a collar. The vertical support member is secured in position to a wall, post or in the ground. The water supply hose is inserted in an opening therein and threaded through the horizontal support member to exit in a downward position.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Fig. 1 is an elevational view of the present invention with a garden-type hose in place and the apparatus secured in the ground.
Fig. 2 is a partial elevational view showing the present invention of Fig. 1 secured to a post which is in turn secured in the ground. Fig. 3 is an exploded view of the parts of the present invention of Fig. 1.
Fig. 4 shows two embodiments of the L-type bracket to secure the present invention to a post or wall.
Fig. 5 shows the eye-type bracket secured to the present invention of Fig. 1 for coupling with the L-bracket of Fig. 4. Fig. 6 is an elevational view of the present invention of Fig. 1 secured to a post by the L-bracket of Fig. 4 and eye-type bracket of Fig. 5, which allows pivoting on the L-bracket.
Fig. 7a is a view of the component parts of the slideable hose member of an alternative embodiment of the present invention of Fig. 1 and Fig. 7b is the assembly with hose installed.
Fig. 8a is a view of the component parts of the slideable vertical support member of an alternative embodiment of the present invention of Fig. 1 and Fig. 8a is the assembly with hose installed.
DESCRITION OF THE INVENTION In Figure 1 of the preferred embodiment the washing apparatus 10 comprises a support member 11 , a hose support member 12, and a flexible hose 13. The support member 11 further comprising a first end 14, a base portion 15, a vertical portion 16, a hose port 17 and a second end 18. The hose support member 12 further comprising a first end 19, a swivel collar 20, a first bend 21 , a transverse portion 22, a second bend 23, a second end 24, and an optional brace member 25. The flexible hose further comprising a first end 13a, a middle portion 13b, and a second end 13c. During construction the swivel collar 20 is securely attached to the hose support member 12 between the first end 19 and the first bend 21. In use hose 13 is inserted through the hose port 17 into the vertical portion 16 and traversed into and through the hose support member 12 to emerge at the second end 24 of the hose support member 12.
In a particularly preferred embodiment the base portion 15 of the support member 11 is secured in the ground by surrounding with concrete 26 or like material. The hose 13 is inserted through the hose port 17 and maneuvered through the support 11 to emerge at the second end 18. The hose 13 is further maneuvered into the first end 19 of the hose support member 12 until it emerges through the second end 24, at which time the first end 19 of the hose support member 12 may be inserted into the second end 18 of the support member 11 until it is restrained in position by the swivel collar 20. Now complete, the hose 13 may be pulled through the apparatus 10 if more hose is needed at the wash area.
In an alternative embodiment, base portion 15 of the support member 11 is secured to a substantially vertical support such as a post or wall 27 by
brackets 27a. The hose port 17 is thus located preferably above the ground level at a height convenient for the user.
In a further alternative embodiment, a substantially vertical and flat mounting frame 28 is secured to a post or wall or embedded in concrete 26. The mounting frame 28 further comprising a lower end 29, an upper end 30, a front surface 31 and a rear surface 32. Attached on the front surface 31 are a plurality of hook-type members 33, the hook-type members 33 further comprising a first end 34 and first portion 35, a bend 36, a ridge or flange 37, a second portion 38 and a second end 39. The hook-type members 33 are arranged on the front surface 31 to reversibly engage eye-type members 40 located on the base portion 15 of the support member 11. The eye-type members 40 further comprising a base portion 41 having a first end 42 and a second end 43, and an eye portion 44 comprising an upper edge 45, a lower edge 46 and a substantially circular portion 47 surrounding hook receiving area 48. In use, the second portion 38 and second end 39 of the hook-type member 33 insert into the hook receiving area 48. The second portion 38 of the hook-type member 33 advances into the hook receiving area 48 until contact with the lower edge 46 of the eye portion 44 contacts the ridge or flange 37 of the first end 34 of the hook-type member 33. Thus the ridge or flange 37 provides support and the second portion 38 of the hook-type member 33 provides alignment.
In construction, the first end 42 of the base portion 41 is securely attached to the base portion 15 of the support member 11 , in approximate location to align with the first portion 35 of the hook-type member 33.
In use, the arrangement of hook and eye attachment provides secure fastening for positioning of the washing apparatus 10 and allows it to pivot. In such a configuration the swivel collar 20 may not be needed and the support member 11 and hose support member 12 may be formed as one piece, although a multiple piece assembly may be easier to manufacture, ship and install. In addition, the hook and eye configuration allows the support member 11 and hose support member 12 to be lifted upward as one unit, with the hose 13 in place, and disengaged from the hook-type member 33 on the mounting frame 28. The washing apparatus 10 may then be moved, because of its relatively light weight, to another area and remounted on another mounting frame 28, thereby making it
portable and increasing the versatility of the apparatus. The hook-type members 33 may be similar in size and construction to an L-shaped threaded bolt 33a widely used to support a swinging or pivoting gate. In use, the threaded or shaft portion 33b is screwed or anchored into a vertical post or wall with the "L" part 33c exposed and oriented in a substantially vertical position. The corresponding 'eye' or hook receiving area 48 of a mating 'eye' bolt, already secured in the side support of the gate, is engaged on the 'L' part 33c and the gate will swing freely. This use of L-bolts suggests an alternative embodiment of the present invention that would replace the mounting frame 28 with just the L-bolts anchored into the vertical support structure. Thus the cost of the unit and installation has been further reduced and the versatility in regard to ease of placement has been increased.
In a typical installation in a horse barn, the washing apparatus 10 may be installed against a wall in a common walkway area between stalls. The few limiting placement factors may be availability of water, water drainage and height. Advantages are that the unit may be located for use in the multipurpose walkway area but easily pivoted out of the way when not in use - and the garden hose may be easily used for another purpose. The profile of the installed unit is minimal so it may not significantly protrude from the wall when pivoted against it during non-use. In addition, if configured on a support that allows the washing apparatus to be quickly disengaged, such as the 'hook-and-eye' type described above, then the unit can be removed from the walkway altogether, or easily reinstalled in another location for immediate use. Even if the garden-type hose is left installed in the unit at all times, the cost of the hose is minimal compared to the cost of permanent plumbing installations.
In a typical installation at a sale, show or fair barn, the washing apparatus of the present invention may be configured in a size more advantageous for washing smaller animals, such as goats, sheep or pets. In addition, the lightweight units may be readily moved for use in another area or storage. In a typical installation for washing machines and the like, the unit may be installed free standing in concrete or attached to a post or wall in an open area. If the unit is unobstructed in the circumference, the unit will pivot 360 degrees for easy access to all sides of the article being washed.
A further advantage of the present invention is that the hose support member 12 may be varied in length. The hose support member 12 may be manufactured to a predetermined length or constructed with a sleeve-type or trombone-type configuration wherein the length could be varied according to the needs of the user. The limiting factors may be the width of the area, and the additional stress on the support member 11 as the hose is cantilevered further from the support. Similarly, the support member 11 could also be configured with a trombone-type adjusting capability thereby allowing the user to adjust the height according to location and use. The adjustment could be secured by the placement and use of a compression or other fitting 50.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention is constructed out of circular rigid tubing, preferably metal conduit or piping sized for sufficient strength, durability and cost. However, substantially rigid non-metallic tubing such as PVC may also be employed. The bends are preferably about ninety (90) degrees and formed using available machinery. However, the bends do not have to be exactly ninety (90) degrees but may be varied according to design and use which not detract from the functionality of the present invention. The hollow tubing does not have to be substantially circular in cross-section but could be square, rectangle, octagonal or of other varied shapes. The interior area should have sufficient size to accept a flexible hose of predetermined diameter. The advantage of using substantially circular pipe is the lower cost and the ease of bending. Square tubing cannot always be easily and reliably bent through ninety (90) degrees possibly requiring that the bends be constructed from welded sections. While this configuration may have some advantages in regard to strength, the disadvantage for the typical user may be the increased cost of the unit.
In a typical embodiment, the support member 11 is approximately ten (10) feet in length constructed of VA inch commercially available galvanized pipe, with approximately two (2) feet of that pipe set in concrete. In the alternative embodiment, the support member 11 is secured to a post or wall by a plurality of cleats 49, or any combination of below ground support and above ground support. The hose support member 12 is comprised VA galvanized pipe with a finished radial length of approximately 5 to 7 feet. The diagonal brace and swivel
collar are welded in place. A hose port 17 sufficient in size to permit the passage of a hose coupling is cut or drilled through the wall of the support member 11 near the ground or base. The height of this hose port 17 may be varied according to the needs of the user and the location. The units of the present invention are being installed in a variety of places seemingly limited only by the imagination of the user since the present invention is so versatile, yet adaptable and economical.
It is understood that the embodiments and descriptions of the invention herein described are merely instruments of the application of the invention and those skilled in the art should realize that changes may be made without departure from the essential elements and contributions to the art made by the teachings of the invention herein.