Patent application title: PORTABLE APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR MAKING A GUTTER COVER
Bradley P. Olson (Fort Ransom, ND, US)
Jimmy V. Olson (Fargo, ND, US)
Daniel G. Belcourt (West Fargo, ND, US)
Eastside Machine Co., Inc.
IPC8 Class: AE04D13076FI
Class name: Static structures (e.g., buildings) cover with surface water receiver at eave or valley with separator; e.g., strainer
Publication date: 2011-06-16
Patent application number: 20110138696
A gutter and cover system includes a cover that may be mounted to the
preexisting gutter at the edge of a roof. The cover system includes a
cover member having an upper pooling portion and an edge flange and lip
that provide for dripping of water over the flange and off the lip into
the gutter through surface tension. The cover is supported on a series of
spaced apart brackets that include a cover mounting portion that aligns
with the flange and keeps the cover at a proper orientation to cause
pooling. The cover is a seamless cover that is cut to length and includes
a cover forming system forming the cover from a coil of blank material.
As the cover mounts directly to the mounting bracket, a mounting flange
is not needed and only one edge of the blank material is deformed. The
material is aligned against one edge and fed through a series of forming
bearings and rollers to gradually bend the edge of the material into the
shape of a flange and a lower lip drip. The system is lightweight and
more mobile than prior systems as fewer stations are needed to deform the
cover as only the first edge is deformed.
1. A gutter and cover system, comprising: a gutter having a front wall, a
bottom and a rear wall; a cover configured to extend over the gutter, the
cover having a front lip and a pooling portion; an attachment element for
attaching the gutter and cover system to a structure; a support element
comprising: a gutter mounting portion having a vertically extending rear
portion configured for engaging the rear wall of the gutter and an
attachment member receiving portion configured for receiving and aligning
the attachment element to extend through the rear wall of the gutter; a
cover mounting portion extending from an upper end of the gutter mounting
portion; the cover mounting portion having a profile configured for
receiving the lip and pooling portion of the cover and for orienting the
cover to pool water at the pooling portion.
2. A gutter cover support element configured for mounting to a gutter and supporting a gutter cover having a lip and a pooling portion, the support element comprising: a gutter mounting portion having a vertically extending rear portion configured for engaging a rear wall of the gutter and an attachment member receiving portion configured for receiving and aligning an attachment element to extend through the rear wall of the gutter; a cover mounting portion extending from an upper end of the gutter mounting portion, the cover mounting portion having a profile configured for receiving the lip and pooling portion of the cover and for orienting the cover to pool water at the pooling portion.
3. An apparatus for forming a seamless gutter cover on site, the apparatus comprising: a spool for holding the blank material; a feeder for feeding the blank material from the spool; an alignment member along a first edge of the blank material; a series of aligned rollers engaging and bending the blank material to form a lip along a second edge of the blank material; a rigid frame holding the spool, feeder, alignment member and aligned rollers; and a cutting station for cutting the cover to a desired length.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to a gutter cover system such as is commonly used at the edge of a roof, and in particular to a seamless cover system with water pooling that may be installed over an existing mounted gutter and a method and machine for making seamless gutter covers.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 Gutters are widely used on a variety of buildings to redirect water to a down pipe, which then directs the run-off to a more convenient disposal location. This avoids splashing, "trenching", flooding, and other nuisances related to roof runoff. A common problem with such gutters is that they collect leaves, sticks, pine needles and other debris, which causes the gutters and/or down pipes to become blocked. As a result, water can back up and flood over the gutter edge and sometimes down the side of a building, negating the benefits of gutters. Gutters blocked by debris can also cause devastating consequences during the winter months if melting snow and ice cannot properly drain off the roofs of buildings. During melting and refreezing cycles, this blocked water can then refreeze and act as an ice dam, which can continue to melt and back up under the roof and/or leak into the interior of the building.
 To cure this deficiency and alleviate the necessity for manually cleaning out gutters and/or down pipes, various systems have been devised. Such systems include screen devices that cover the gutter opening to deflect debris from going into the gutter. However, instead of deflecting the debris, such screen devices may instead cause an accumulation of debris, which still must be manually removed over a period of time. Other systems have been made to utilize surface tension to direct the water into the gutter, while the leaves and other debris carried by the water are jettisoned beyond the gutter. Earlier gutter devices utilizing the surface tension of water to separate water from leaves and other debris often fail at effectively directing the debris-free water into the gutter portion of the devices. However, it has been found that surface tension of the water is often not sufficient to contain the water flow against certain counter-forces, such as with large volumes of water that may occur in heavy rains. To cure this deficiency, systems have been devised to add measures for interrupting and/or slowing the flow of water, such as ribs, to the covers of gutters to slow the water, allowing the surface tension to direct debris-free water into the gutter. Although such measures do increase the effectiveness of surface tension, they may still fail to satisfactorily alleviate the above problem.
 To overcome these deficiencies, a gutter and cover system was developed by Eastside Machine Company of Bismarck, N. Dak. This system deflects leaves and other debris while effectively capturing and retaining the debris-free water within the gutter portion of the system. Moreover, the system is seamless and the gutter and cover may be cut to length from coils of material with a machine that is transported to the jobsite on a dedicated trailer. The system has proven to be is very effective, but may not allow for making a seamless cover and installation on some existing mounted gutters.
 There exists a need for a seamless cover system that provides pooling and may be cut to length and easily installed on existing mounted gutters. Such a gutter cover system should be structurally simple and easy to install on a variety of gutter styles and manufacture than the prior gutter devices. Moreover, the cover forming machine should be small and lightweight to be easily portable in a small truck, van or small trailer. The present invention addresses these as well as other problems associated with gutter covers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention is directed to a gutter and cover assembly and in particular to a cover that may be retrofitted to an existing mounted gutter as well as a machine and method for making the gutter cover.
 According to a first aspect, a gutter and cover system such as is typically mounted to the edge of a roof includes a conventional gutter with a separate cover system that mounts over the gutter. The cover includes a pooling section that slows the water prior to flowing over an edge of the cover and then, due to surface tension, following the flange and lip and dripping into the gutter while debris is kept out of the gutter. The cover mounts directly to brackets spaced apart along the length of the gutter and cover. In one embodiment, the cover is a seamless cover that is made on site at the installation location and cut to the necessary length.
 The brackets are preferably made in a conventional manner of a lightweight plastic or other inexpensive, weather resistant material. The brackets are generally mountable to gutters having different configurations and mount only to a rear wall of the gutter and or to the roof edge, wall or other substantially vertical mounting surface for the gutter. The bracket includes a rear portion and lateral reinforcement as well as an arcing reinforcement portion with widened sections providing rigidity and stability. The cover mounting portion is at a top of the bracket and includes a mounting surface configured for receiving mounting screws that mount through the cover to the bracket. The cover mounting section portion is also angled slightly toward the roof edge to ensure that the cover is maintained at a proper orientation to create a pooling portion. The outer edge of the cover mounting portion is configured for engaging and aligning the flange so that the cover portion is properly configured when installed. The bracket also includes complementary arcing alignment portions that form a horizontal bore therethrough when aligned, which receives a mounting screw and helps to position and hold the mounting screw while being screwed into a rear mounting portion of the bracket and to the mounting surface. It can be appreciated that the cover and bracket provides for simple mounting and easy manufacture as the cover member does not require a rear flange for mounting to the mounting surface of the gutter. Moreover, the bracket and cover are self-aligning to ensure that the cover member is oriented properly to provide the pooling and slow down the flow of water off the roof.
 A second aspect of the present invention is a portable system for making the cover member. The portable system includes a frame and a feed system for supporting a continuous coil of material that is fed around an end tensioning drum. From the drum, material is fed through a series of forming rollers and bearings to deform the blank material to a profile having a flange and a lower lip. In addition to the forming rollers, upper and lower rollers provide for tension, drive and alignment. As only one edge of the blank material need to be deformed, material is aligned against a stationary alignment bar along the edge being deformed. The system may accommodate covers of different widths and includes a moveable alignment bar at an opposite edge of the blank material to maintain proper position. The drive rollers are driven by a motor to a transmission and a drive shaft of a middle roller in one embodiment. A series of sprockets and drive chains links to the other forming rollers and bearings to drive all drive rollers at the same speed.
 The flange is formed by a first edge of the blank material engaging increasingly angled sets of forming bearings that bend the edge substantially downward. The material then engages a pair of forming rollers having ridges that impart the lip to the edge of the material. Following formation of the lip, the material passes through four more sets of rollers that continue to deform the material into the final shape of the flange. The system provides for reliable and continuous drive without slippage and for a consistent, repeatable flange and lip profiles. As only one edge of the material is deformed, the number of forming stations are decreased so that the system is lightweight and smaller than previous systems so the present system that may be fitted in a minivan, pickup truck bed or small trailer.
 These features of novelty and various other advantages that characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages, and the objects obtained by its use, reference should be made to the drawings that form a further part hereof, and to the accompanying descriptive matter, in which there is illustrated and described a preferred embodiment of the invention.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a gutter with a cover assembly according to the principles of the present invention;
 FIG. 2 is an end view of gutter and cover shown in FIG. 1;
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a bracket for the cover assembly shown in FIG. 1;
 FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the bracket shown in FIG. 3;
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an apparatus for making a cover element for the cover assembly shown in FIG. 1;
 FIG. 6 is a second perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 5;
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the motor removed;
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the housing removed;
 FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the housing and portions of the frame removed;
 FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the housing and portions of the frame and top rollers removed;
 FIG. 11 is a detail view of the material feed assembly for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5;
 FIG. 12 is a detail view of a first cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with blank material engaging forming bearings;
 FIG. 13 is a detail view of a second cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a second set of forming bearings;
 FIG. 14 is a detail view of a third cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a third set of forming bearings;
 FIG. 15 is a detail view of a fourth cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a fourth set of forming bearings;
 FIG. 16 is a detail view of a fifth cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a set of lip forming rollers;
 FIG. 17 is a detail view of a sixth cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a set of forming rollers;
 FIG. 18 is a detail view of a seventh cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a set of forming rollers;
 FIG. 19 is a detail view of a final cover forming station for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the material engaging a finishing set of forming rollers;
 FIG. 20 is an end view of the rollers and material bent into the cover profile for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5; and
 FIG. 21 is a top perspective view of forming rollers and drives for the apparatus shown in FIG. 5 with the housing removed.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown a gutter and cover assembly, generally designated 1000. The assembly 1000 is positioned at the edge of a roof to receive runoff water and channel the water to a downpipe to prevent erosion or other damage from high speed water flowing unimpeded off of the edge of the roof. The assembly includes a conventional gutter 1020 mounted to the roof. The gutter includes a back 1022, a bottom 1024, and a front wall 1026. The front wall 1026 defines a lip 1028. As shown in FIG. 2, some gutters may also include a support 1030 extending between the back 1022 and the front wall 1026. In a preferred embodiment, the gutter 1020 is a seamless gutter cut to length for the section needed from a single coil of material such as galvanized steel, copper or aluminum. However, the present system 1000 may be adapted to many different mounted gutters having different sizes, profiles and construction.
 A separate cover 1040 is configured to be retrofitted to an existing gutter. The cover 1040 includes a pooling portion 1042 leading to a front flange 1044 and a lip 1046 extending downward from the front flange 1044. The pooling portion 1042 is configured to extend at a slight angle downward away from an outer edge of the gutter 1020 and towards the edge of the roof to receive water flowing down the roof and slowing the water down before flowing off the cover 1020. The water then pools and drips over the front flange 1044 and due to surface tension, falls off the lip 1046 and into the gutter 1020. In a preferred embodiment, the cover 1040 is a seamless cover made from galvanized steel or other suitable material that is cut to the desired length through a portable forming machine, as described hereinafter.
 To support and mount the cover 1040, brackets 1060 are utilized at spaced apart locations along the length of the gutter and cover 1000. The bracket 1060 is preferably formed of a lightweight plastic material and may be molded or otherwise formed by inexpensive conventional techniques. The bracket 1060 includes a riser portion 1062 extending at a rear portion of the bracket 1060. A rear rib 1064 extends up the back of the gutter 1000 and an arcing rib 1066 extends upward and outward toward the front portion of the bracket 1062. A cover support portion 1068 flares laterally and is configured for receiving the cover 1040 and angling the cover 1040 in a preferred orientation to create the pooling effect. The cover support portion 1068 forms a downward facing ledge 1076 that has a lip 1046 extending underneath a front extended end for easy alignment. The cover 1040 mounts to the brackets 1060 by use of conventional mounting screws 1082 that are drilled downward into the cover support portion 1068. The bracket 1060 mounts to the edge of the roof or building with a mounting screw 1080. To provide for easy and swift mounting, the bracket 1060 includes a front screw alignment portion 1070 and a complementary rear screw alignment portion 1072. The screw alignment portions 1070 and 1072 are complementary arcing portions that extend in opposite directions to form a horizontal bore when aligned so that the mounting screw 1080 may be inserted through the alignment portions and maintained and aligned for mounting to the building or roof. A screw receiving portion 1074 at the rear of the bracket receives the screw when mounted and has an orifice that receives the threaded portion of the screw 1080. In a preferred embodiment, the mounting screw 1080 is positioned to extend at an angle of approximately 2.5° above horizontal. This angle ensures that the lower portion of the bracket is pulled flush against the rear wall of the gutter 1022. The bracket 1060 is adaptable to a wide variety of gutter configurations as the bracket does not engage a front wall of the gutter.
 The bracket 1060 and cover 1040 provide for faster and higher quality mounting as the bracket 1060 is configured for receiving the cover and has a geometry that aligns the cover 1040 due to engagement of the cover 1040 with the pooling portion 1042 and the support portion 1068 as well as the flange 1044 and lip 1046 engaging the front ledge 1076. The bracket 1060 maintains the pooling portion 1042 at a correct angle without requiring further adjustment.
 Moreover, the bracket 1060 provides for easily aligning and attaching the screws 1080 into the edge of the roof. The configuration of the bracket cover eliminates having to mount a cover to the edge of the roof. In addition to eliminating the much more difficult mounting arrangement shown in the prior art, the manufacturing process is also simplified as a mounting flange is eliminated from the present cover 1040. The process provides for a bracket that is self aligning and easily mounted on a wide variety of gutter configurations. The cover 1040 is simply placed over the bracket 1060, which self-aligns the cover, and then mounted with conventional screws 1082 through the cover support portion 1068.
 Referring now to FIGS. 5-7, there is shown a system for forming seamless gutter covers, generally designated 100. The system 100 includes a frame 102 supporting a forming assembly 110, shown more clearly in FIGS. 8-10. A cover 104 shown in FIGS. 5-7 extends over the forming assembly 110 and attaches to the frame 102. A drive assembly 106 engages the forming assembly 110 and mounts to a side of the frame 102. A feeding assembly 108 is mounted at one end of the system 100.
 Referring again to FIGS. 8-10, the frame 102 includes lower frame members 112 and upper cross frame members 114. The upper cross frame members 114 support press bars 116 that provide tension for the forming assembly 110, as explained hereinafter. Adjustment yokes 118 include a rotatable set screw to make precise adjustments to the press bars 116 and therefore to the operation of the forming assembly 110.
 The drive assembly 106 shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 includes a motor 120 and a transmission 122. The transmission 122 mounts to a drive shaft 124, shown most clearly in FIG. 8. In one embodiment, the motor may be a one horsepower single phase electric motor with the transmission having a twenty to one ratio (20:1) gear box coupled to a keyed drive shaft 124. As shown in FIG. 21, the drive shaft 124 is connected to and drives shafts of drive rollers through a series of drive chains 128 and sprockets 126. Each of the shafts is therefore driven at the same speed. The drive system 106 provides for reliable continuous operation.
 As shown in FIGS. 5-6 and 11, the feed assembly 108 includes a tensioning drum 136 rotatably mounted on a drum support 138. In addition, a feeder spool 130 includes a coil of blank material that is fed over the top of the drum 136 and then extends around and under the tensioning drum 138 and to the rollers and bearings of the forming assembly 110. The spool 130 rests on spool support rollers 132 having a frame 134. The spool 130 rotates as the blank material is pulled through the rollers of the forming assembly and around the tensioning drum 136. The tensioning drum 136 provides for proper tension and ensures proper alignment of the material as it feeds into the forming assembly 110.
 The cover forming system 100 is adaptable to form covers for gutters typically ranging from four to seven inches wide. The blank material is aligned by a first alignment bar 140 shown most clearly in FIG. 11 that is stationary and is proximate a first edge of the material and is aligned with the devices of the cover forming assembly 110 that form the flange and lip of the cover 1040. As shown most clearly in FIGS. 7-8, a movable alignment bar 142 is positioned at the opposite edge of the material below the tensioning drum 136 and is laterally adjustable to ensure that the blank material is fed correctly into the forming assembly 110.
 The cover forming assembly 110 includes a series of spaced apart bottom drive rollers 150 and upper tensioning rollers 152. The bottom rollers 150 rotate on shafts that mount to the lower frame 112 and include the sprockets 126. The lower rollers 150 are driven and engage the blank material and feed it through the forming assembly 110. The upper rollers 152 mount to the press bars 116 and maintain the material between the rollers 150 and 152 at a continuous feed. The height of the upper rollers 152 is adjustable through the yokes 118 to maintain optimal spacing and proper tension.
 The flange 1044 and lip 1046 of the cover 1040 are formed at forming stations 160, 170, 180, 190, 200, 210, 220 and 230. The forming stations bend and deform the blank metal material as it is fed through the cover forming system 100 in a continuous manner. Each station advances the bend slightly more to provide a continuous arc around the flange 1044 in a repeatable consistent profile.
 Referring to FIG. 12, a first forming station 160 includes forming bearings 162 and 164 that provide a slight downward bend to the edge of the material. The forming bearing 162 is configured so that its outer lower surface engages an upper surface of the coil of cover material. The forming bearing 164 is at a slight angle to impart the bend to the edge of the material.
 Referring to FIG. 13, a second forming station 170 includes forming bearings 172 and 174. The forming bearing 172 is configured for engaging the horizontal portion of the material while the bearing 174 further bends the edge downward. The bearing 174 is oriented at a slightly larger angle to horizontal than the forming bearing 164 of the first station 160.
 Referring to FIG. 14, a third forming station 180 includes forming bearings 182 and 184. Bearing 182 is mounted to rotate about a substantially horizontal axis and engages an upper surface of the blank material while the forming roller 184 bonds the edge of the cover material to extend more down than horizontal.
 Referring to FIG. 15, a fourth forming station 190 includes forming bearings 192 and 194. Forming bearing 192 is mounted to rotate about a horizontal axis and engage the upper horizontal surface of the cover material while the forming bearing 194 is mounted about a nearly vertical axis and imparts a bend to the edge of the cover material at a substantially right angle to the upper portion of the material.
 Referring to FIG. 16, a fifth forming station 200 includes lip forming rollers 202 and 204. The lip forming rollers 202 and 204 are complementary and impart an opposite and smaller diameter bend to the bottom edge of the flange 1044 of the cover 1040 to form the lip 1046. Each of the rollers 202 and 204 includes a complementary lower ridge portion 206 having a diameter approximately the same as the lip.
 Referring to FIG. 17, a sixth forming station 210 includes forming rollers 212 and 214. The rollers 212 and 214 engage an underside of the partially formed flange to bend the flange beyond vertical and slightly upward. The rollers 212 and 214 include lower ridges 216 and 218 to further push the flange portion inward.
 Referring to FIG. 18, a seventh forming station 220 includes forming rollers 222 and 224. The forming roller 224 is configured to rotate about an axis that is more horizontal than vertical and bends the nearly formed flange and lip further under the upper portion of the cover portion of the material. The forming roller 222 includes a lower ridge 226 that engages the lip portion of the cover for further bending.
 An eighth and final station 230 includes forming rollers 232 and 234. The final forming rollers 232 and 234 are opposed and rotate about a substantially horizontal axis and engage the lip portion at the edge of the cover material to place a final bend on the flange 1044 and have the lip 1046 of the cover 1040 extending substantially vertically downward.
 Referring to FIG. 20, the forming assembly includes end rollers 240 that include ridges that maintain the material feeding substantially straight from the end of the forming assembly 110. When the finish cover 1040 emerges, it may be out to a desired length with conventional cutting devices.
 It can be appreciated that the resulting gutter cover 1040 is simple and easy to mount without requiring a rear flange for mounting. The forming system 100 forms consistent and repeatable flange and lip profiles of the cover 1040. Moreover, the cover forming system 100 has a smaller number of forming stations as compared to previous stations as there are no stations to form a mounting portion along the edge closest to the roof, as the mounting portion is not needed. Alignment and adjustment are easier as rollers do not need to be moved should different sized materials be used for making different width covers as the flange and lip profiles are always formed along a first edge of the aligned material.
 It is also appreciated that the forming system 100 is lightweight and easily portable. The frame 102 is formed of aluminum in one embodiment while the cover 104 is formed of stainless steel. This construction decreases corrosion and rusting without requiring painting of the elements and eliminates problems over time due to paint flaking and interfering with a clean material feed. In the embodiment shown, the system 100 does not require its own separate trailer and may be placed in the back of a minivan or pickup truck bed. The system weighs approximately 320 pounds, allowing for loading and unloading from the van or pickup by a small siding team.
 It is to be understood, however, that even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the present invention have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the invention, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.
Patent applications in class With separator; e.g., strainer
Patent applications in all subclasses With separator; e.g., strainer