Patent application title: Earth wall frame
Vernon John Dueck (Coquitlam, CA)
IPC8 Class: AE02D2902FI
Class name: Earth treatment or control shoring, bracing, or cave-in prevention retaining wall
Publication date: 2012-04-12
Patent application number: 20120087743
A modular frame is provided for the making of earthen walls. The frame is
a hinged pair of panels--a base panel and a front facing wall
panel--which is angularly adjustable so that a plurality of such frames
can form a wall of varying batter are possible.
1. A frame unit for constructing earthen walls, comprising: (a) a porous
base panel; and (b) a porous wall panel hingedly adjoined to said base
panel that is rigidly adjustable at a desired inclination therebetween.
2. The frame unit of claim 1, wherein said base panel is an isosceles trapezoid that tapers backwardly.
3. The frame unit of claim 2, wherein said wall panel has the first part of a complementary, two part interlock mechanism and said base panel has the second part of a complementary two part interlock mechanism.
4. The frame unit of claim 3, wherein said first part of interlock mechanism is a pin and said second part of interlock mechanism is a slot.
5. The frame unit of claim 1, wherein said wall panel has a curved projection and said base panel has a corresponding slot, and said wall panel is hingedly adjoined to said base panel by the cooperation between said curved projection and said slot.
6. The frame unit of claim 1, wherein said wall panel and said base panel is adjoined so that said wall panel rests flat on said base panel.
7. The frame unit of claim 5, wherein said curved project and said slot are friction-fitted together to prevent unintended dislodgement.
8. The frame unit of claim 1, further comprising visually pleasing accessories attached to said wall panel.
9. The frame unit of claim 1, further comprising a geogrid that is securely gripped by said wall panel and said base panel at their points of adjoining.
10. The frame unit of claim 1, further comprising a rigid member connectable between said wall panel and said base panel, and wherein the adjustment of the desired angle is effected by deploying said rigid member at selectable positions.
11. The frame unit of claim 2, wherein said base panel second part of a complementary two part interlock mechanism, is a groove extending longitudinally along the bottom portion of said base panel that snugly receives said first part of a complementary two part interlock mechanism.
12. The frame unit of claim 1, further comprising two side panels and one back panel, interconnected to form a box frame.
13. A wall having, on one tier, two adjacent frame units of claim 2, that are rotated relative to each other to form a curved wall segment.
14. A wall having two tiers, each comprising a plurality of frame units of claim 1, wherein one frame unit of one tier is inclined at a first angle and one frame unit of the second tier is inclined at a second angle that differs from the first angle.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates to the construction of earthen walls.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Methods are known for slope stabilization, slope retention, embankments, earthen walls and other formations. But they lack flexibility (e.g. to create curved walls or walls of varying batter) and they often require stabilization beyond what can be obtained by a blanket of coating or wire mesh or other traditional methods.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 There is provided a frame unit for constructing earthen walls, comprising: a porous base panel; and a porous wall panel hingedly adjoined to said base panel that is rigidly adjustable at a desired inclination therebetween.
 There is also provided a wall having, on one tier, two adjacent such frame units that are rotated relative to each other to form a curved wall segment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 A better understanding of the present invention can be obtained when the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment is considered in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:
 FIG. 1 is a back perspective view of an unassembled basic frame;
 FIG. 2 is a back perspective view of an assembled basic frame with geogrid;
 FIG. 3 is back perspective view of a partial wall made of basic frames;
 FIG. 4a is a side sectional view of part of the partial wall of FIG. 3 taken along lines A-A thereof;
 FIG. 4b is a side sectional view of part of the partial wall of FIG. 3 taken along lines B-B thereof;
 FIG. 5a is a front perspective view of a partial wall of several curved segments
 FIG. 5b is a back perspective view of the partial wall of FIG. 5a;
 FIG. 5c is a front perspective view of a partial wall of several straight segments;
 FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of a facade attachment;
 FIG. 7 is top perspective view of a "box frame" embodiment of assembled basic frame of FIG. 2;
 FIG. 8 is a top perspective view of a wall corner composed of a corner variation of the box frame of FIG. 7;
 FIG. 9 is side perspective sectional view of an alternative interlock of base panel and wall panel; and
 FIG. 10 is a side perspective view of the basic frame for packing.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
 NOTICE REGARDING COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
 Frame wall 50 of this invention is for an "earthen wall" type (also known as "slope retention" or "mechanical earth stabilization"), which is constructed from a plurality of basic frames 100 (as seen in FIGS. 1 and 2). Frame wall 50 can have a variety of curved/straight, battered/vertical segments, constructed modularly by using basic frames 100 (as seen in FIGS. 5a, 5b and 5c).
 Basic frame 100 is composed of a hinged pair of panels, base panel 110 and associated wall panel 120. Base panel 110 is an isosceles trapezoid to permit curved segments of frame wall 50. Wall panel 120 is rectangular. Base panel 110 and wall panel 120 should be moisture-permeable.
 Base panel 110 and wall panel 120 are hinged (at the former's edge portion and latter's bottom edge) by a rotatable friction-fit horn 121-slot 111 combination, at the front of the basic unit 100. Horn 121 and corresponding slot 111 (and in particular, the opening thereof) are dimensioned and contoured such that horn 121 can be easily rotated into and within slot 111 in a friction-grip relationship therewith, from an initial rotational position (representing the packing format), to an intermediate rotational position (representing an inclined wall panel) to a maximum rotational position (representing a vertical wall panel). Horn 121 tapers as it curves toward its tip of apex. Slot 111 opens on the upper surface of the front edge portion of base panel 110 and curves underneath that edge portion backwardly to accommodate maximum rotation (i.e. insertion) of horn 121 therein.
 In its initial position (i.e. a flat, compact packing state, as shown in FIG. 10), the apex portion of horn 121 is partially in slot 111 secured by friction fit to resist unintended dislodgement therefrom. This can be achieved by simple relative dimensioning and profiling of portions of slot 111 and horn 121. For example, (not shown), horn 121 is provided with a small ratchet tab or lip proximate its apex that, once pushed past a certain contoured part of the width of slot 111 proximate its opening, cannot be reversed except by very deliberate and forceful manual retraction.
 An intermediate position of wall panel 120 (and its horn 121) relative to base panel 110 (and its slot 111), as shown in FIG. 4a, defines a battered or inclined wall segment.
 In a position of maximum rotation of horn 121 within slot 111, wall panel 120 is at right angles to base panel 110, creating a vertical wall segment. The ceiling of slot 111 has an arcuate bump 121a extending downwardly that is positioned and profiled to mate with the inner surface of horn 121 (i.e. its contour around the point of rotation) in the maximum rotational position of horn 121.
 Being modular, the interlock mechanism components that cooperate between tiers of basic frames 100, are each identical for their kind. But for notational purposes herein, the pins/horns and slots of a basic frame in the first, ground tier, have a reference numeral beginning with the digit "1"; those in the second, superjacent tier, have a reference numeral beginning with the digit "2", and so forth. Also, for notational purposes herein, the basic frames are identified each by a suffix letter or letter pair, so that, for example, "a" refers to one basic frame, "b" refers to another, adjacent basic frame, and the suffix "ab" refers to a basic frame that traverses underjacent basic frames "a" and "b".
 The front edge portion of base panel 110 has two slots 112 opening upwardly from the bottom surface thereof. As part of the second tier, slot 212 is somewhat elongated and oblong to accommodate various angles of wall panel 120 (and of, in particular, pin 122 of the underjacent wall panel) positioned relative thereto. The longitudinal axis of slot 112 is transverse to the longitudinal front edge portion of base panel 110. The top edge portion of wall panel 120 has two pins 122, each cooperating with one slot 212 of a base panel 210 of a superjacent tier when constructing a multi-tiered frame wall 51, as shown in FIG. 4b and FIG. 3. The cooperation takes the modality of a friction fit (achieved conventionally, e.g. by relative dimensioning or with a split-head, bifurcated pin that is pressed into a slot).
 For home garden installations, a dimensional example of wall panel 120 is 36''×12'' (or 91 cms×30 cms); and of base panel 110 is 36''×27'' (or 91 cms×69 cms), with depth of 18'' (or 46 cms), define base angles (between the side edge portion and the front edge portion) of about 76 degrees. The panels can be made of recycled plastic by conventional injection methods, and have attributes (e.g. of strength, weight, resistance to deterioration and other environmental factors) appropriate for the installation side (e.g. home garden versus commercial site which may have regulatory requirements). Ideally, the panels are made of a plastic or other synthetic material that allows for easy cutting by a hand saw or power saw (see FIG. 8 and associated explanation). Certain manufacturing processes can advantageously create base panel 110 and wall panel 120 with webbing and holes 125 (see FIG. 1).
 Inclination guide or stay 150 is deployable at each side portion of hinged pair of wall panel 120 and base panel 110 to maintain rigidly the angle of inclination of the former to the latter, as seen in FIG. 2. Stay 150 is any rigid member (e.g. a stiff wire or metal rod) that has one distal end pivotably fixed to wall panel 120 edge portion (e.g. with a conventional eye hook or eye bolt mechanism). The other distal end of stay 150 is insertable in one of holes 151 in base panel 110 side edge portion (e.g. bent wire hook). Once deployed, both distal ends are adapted to resist dislodgement (from wall panel 120 and base panel 110) except by affirmative manual manipulation of stay 150. Holes 151 are located along base panel 110 side edge portions for preset angles of inclination of wall panel 120 relative to base panel 110, when stays 150 are inserted therein. With stays 150 thus deployed, wall panel 120 and base panel 110 are thereby in effect rigidly locked into their angular relationship, and more generally, the inclination or batter of each tier of frame 50 can be adjusted into a desired rigid formation independently of other tiers (as shown in FIGS. 5a, 5b and 5c).
 Once deployed, stays 150 restrain wall panel 120 from angling forward. This restraint is important initially at the installation site as earth, rocks, gravel, seed mats, soil restraining mats, and the like are backfilled, compacted, installed and pressed against wall panel 120 during construction of frame wall 50. Of course, this restraint remains important to support the integrity of the final earthen wall or formation. Once a first, ground tier of a plurality of basic frames 100 is laid out on foundation soil 501 and are backfilled, a second tier is laid out on top of the first, ground tier (with basic frame units and their respective panels interlocked tier-wise as described), and so forth (with exemplary results shown in FIGS. 5a, 5b and 5c).
 FIGS. 4a and 4b are cross-sectional side views, taken along lines A-A and B-B respectively of FIG. 3. Wall panel 120a is rotated relative to base panel 110a, and in particular, horn 121 is rotated within slot 111 and then held in the desired inclination by stays 150, as explained above. FIG. 4a shows soil restraining mat or geogrid 500 which, during installation on site, is manually extended along the top of base panel 110a forwardly to the front of base panel 110a, under wall panel 120a and looped back under wall panel 120a (where "under" includes being penetrated and thereby held by the plurality of interlocking horn 121-slots 111 combinations in a positive mechanical connection), and then upwardly along and hugging the interior of wall panel 120a. At that point, basic frame 100 and geogrid 500 are in position ready for backfilling. The preceding deployment of geogrid 500 may be already provided partially by the pre-installation geogrid 500 (as explained below in conjunction with FIG. 10 and the packed format of basic frame 100).
 After the backfilling is completed for the first, ground tier, then geogrid 500 is extended over the backfill backwardly, a portion of which is shown at 500a in FIG. 3. When the ground tier of frame wall 50 is thus completed, the second tier of frame wall 50 is constructed thereon, with a second, superjacent tier of wall frames 100, employing the method as described above for the first, underjacent tier, with the additional step of aligning the base panel slots 212 of the superjacent tier frame units with the wall panel pins 122 of the underjacent tier frame units.
 FIGS. 5a, 5b and 5c show a variety of segments of frame wall 50 which are possible with a plurality of basic frames 100 employed modularly. The soil foundation for frame wall 50 is conventionally flat and is represented symbolically as 501 and all base panels 110 are orientated flat and spaced-apart parallel to soil 501 (with one exceptional configuration explained below).
 As evident in FIGS. 5a and 5b, the maximum curvature of a segment of a tier of frame wall 50 is constrained only by the (manufactured) base angles of adjacent base panels 110 and the (installer-determined) angle of rotation between adjacent base panels 110. The curved segment of the ground tier formed by adjacent basic frames base panels 110c and 110d, is maximized for curvature and their respective wall panels 120c and 120d are deployed to create a vertical wall segment. Superjacent tier basic frame base panel 210cd is located to traverse, in a running bond configuration, two underjacent basic frames, i.e. one slot of its base panel (not shown) interlocks with one pin of underjacent wall panel 110c, and the other slot (not shown) interlocks with one pin of underjacent wall panel 110d. Superjacent tier basic frame wall panel 220cd can be orientated vertically or inclined.
 The curved wall segment created by adjacent basic frames base panels 110c and 110b has less curvature than the preceding adjacent base panels 110c and 110d, and also shows an inclined wall panel 120b.
 The curved wall segment created by adjacent basic frames 110b and 110a shows a curved and battered wall segment that is "seamless" or gap-less between adjacent basic frame wall panels. To achieve this configuration, foundational soil 501 must be profiled appropriately. Angled trench 501a is dug in foundational soil 501 for base panel 110a to be orientated downwardly and not flat, as best shown in FIG. 5b.
 Straight wall segments of frame wall 50 of basic frames 100 are shown in FIG. 5c, which also shows a running bond and a varying batter (e.g. the inclination of the second tier is greater than that of the third tier).
 The earthen formation built with frame wall 50, is plantable to give a pleasing, "green" appearance. To that end, natural or artificial accessories can be attached to wall panels 120. FIG. 6 shows an exemplary artificial facade or accessory 155 attached by projections 156 (by friction grip or similar) to parts of the webbing of wall panel 120. The webbing of wall panel 120, including triangular holes 125, advantageously provides many opportunities for accessories to interface with. For a natural facade or accessory, seed mats (not shown) may be inserted between wall panels 120 and geogrid 500 as part of the frame wall 50 construction process.
 FIG. 7 shows box frame 700, being a "box" embodiment of the aforementioned basic frame 100. Box frame 700 can be formed by augmenting basic frame 100 with side panels 130 and 140 and back panel 150. Panels 130, 140 and 150 are similar to wall panel 120 in construction and function. In particular, each such panel has top pins (shown) and corresponding bottoms slots (not shown) like those of wall panel 120, for inter-tier connection. Conventional ways can be used to secure the side panels and back panels to each other and to wall panel 120 (e.g. by plastic clamps or clasps, or plastic ties or spiral wires). For extra support, reinforcement and stiffening of box frame 700, a panel or other member (not shown) extends between wall panel 120 and back panel 150, intermediate side panels 130 and 140. Frame boxes 700 can be stacked and connected (using interlocks similar to the pin 112-slot 122 interlocks as explained above) to form free standing, double-sided walls or retaining walls with geogrids, that have substantial backfill retention properties.
 FIG. 8 shows a variation of basic box frame 700. Corner box frame 701 is in the shape of a right-angled trapezoid and is used to form frame wall corners. One method of constructing corner box frame 701 is to conventionally manufacture the panels of the required dimensions. Another method of constructing corner box frame 701 is to construct box frame 700 as described above but not including the last side panel. The triangular frame wedge of one side of base panel 110 is cut to remove it to result in a right-angled side; and the last side panel is cut to shortened, to form the side panel for the now right-angled side. Cutting is done by hand saw or power saw or other tool appropriate to cut the material of which basic frame 100 is composed. Two such corner box frames 701 are placed to form a right angle frame wall corner, as shown in FIG. 8, and frame walls can be continued with (e.g. alternating) box frames 700. Obviously, box frames 700 and corner box frames 701 can be used to form non-right angled corners.
 FIG. 9 shows an alternative to the aforementioned pin 121-slot 111 interlock, as shown in the other drawings, especially FIG. 4b. Instead of the plurality of discrete slots 112 running transversely to the length of base panel front edge portion, FIG. 9 shows channel or groove 124 that extends the length (of a superjacent tier) base panel 210 front edge bottom portion. Channel 124 has, running centrally along its length, narrow central opening 123 for accepting pins 122 of underjacent wall panel. This way, superjacent base panels can be easily and slidably interconnected with underjacent panels (and their pins) with angular degrees of interlock and tolerance greater than that provided by the discrete pin 121-slot 111 described above, while still maintaining a good interlock connection.
 As explained above, basic frame 100 (including, in particular, horn 121 and slot 111) are configured advantageously in an initial angular position, for a compact, flat packing format, as shown in FIG. 10, for packing purposes (example, for retail display, inventory storage, or transport to installation sites). Geogrid 500 may be pre-installed, as shown, and is penetrated and threaded by the horn/slot mechanism in a positive mechanical connection, to prevent dislodgement.
 Although base panel 110 is preferably an isosceles trapezoid, it can be rectangular, right-angle trapezoid, irregular trapezoid or other geometric shape. Such are easy design decisions for the skilled person in the art once the desired curvature parameters of wall segments are decided upon. Exemplary parameters include degree of wall curvature and the direction of curvature (or no curvature, i.e. a straight wall). As well, although base panels 110 are shown herein as identical, variations in base angles are possible, so that a wall 50 may be composed of basic frames 100 manufactured with different base angles.
 Although particular complementary male/female interconnections are shown (between base panel 110 and wall panel 120 of a basic frame 100; and between basic frames 100 of the underjacent tier with basic frames 200 of the superjacent tier), other complementary interlocking mechanisms are possible and readily within the design capabilities of the skilled person in the art. For example, instead of the horn/slot combination described herein, other hingedly adjoining mechanisms are possible (for examples, butt hinge, continuous hinge, barrel hinge). Any bearing or interconnection (whether made of a single flexible material or of movable components) that undetachably connects a wall panel and a base panel while allowing a limited amount of angular relationship between them before establishing a rigid angular connection, would suffice. For example, a base panel and a wall panel that abut each other along their respective longitudinal edges and are secured by a spiral wire looping therealong and threading therebetween, would suffice for certain constructions.
 For another example, FIG. 1 shows two pins 122 positioned equi-distantly along the top edge of wall panel 120. In contrast to one central pin or equivalent, two pins permit a stable, symmetric running bond wall 50 of tiers (as seen in FIGS. 3 and 5a, 5b and 5c). Of course, more pins are possible. For example, (not shown) a third pin positioned centrally between two pins 122 (e.g., of FIG. 3), and a corresponding third slot of a (superjacent) base panel, can be provided to enhance the grip of the interlock between tiers.
 All figures are drawn only for ease of explanation and understanding of the basic teachings of the present invention. The extensions of the Figures with respect to number, position, relationship, and dimensions of the parts to form the preferred embodiments as explained herein are within the skill of the art after the teachings of the present invention. Further, the exact dimensions and dimensional proportions to conform to specific force, weight, strength, and similar requirements will likewise be within the skill of the art after the following teachings of the present invention are understood, bearing in mind the nature of the deployment site (home garden site or a large industrial/commercial site).
 Some features are shown in only one or two drawings and omitted in other drawings for ease of illustration and comprehension therein. For examples: stays 150 are shown in FIG. 2 but not otherwise; geogrid 500 is shown only partially in the drawings, and in particular geogrid portion 500a, as shown in FIG. 3, only points to a part of the upper corner of geogrid 500; holes 151 are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 only.
 Where used in the various figures of the drawings, the same numerals designate the same or similar parts. Furthermore, when the terms "top", "bottom", "first", "second", "inside", "outside", "edge", "side", "front", "back", "length", "width", "inner", "outer", and similar terms are used herein, it should be understood that these terms have reference only to the structure shown in the drawings as it would appear to a person viewing the drawings and are utilized only to facilitate describing the invention.
 Although the method and apparatus of the present invention has been described in connection with the preferred embodiment, it is not intended to be limited to the specific form set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
 The Abstract of the Disclosure is provided to comply with 37 C.F.R. section 1.72(b), requiring an abstract that will allow the reader to quickly ascertain the nature of the technical disclosure. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims. In addition, in the foregoing Detailed Description, it can be seen that various features are grouped together in a single embodiment for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed embodiments of the invention require more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive subject matter lies in less than all features of a single disclosed embodiment. Thus the following claims are hereby incorporated into the Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate preferred embodiment.
Patent applications in class Retaining wall
Patent applications in all subclasses Retaining wall