Patent application title: Buoyant Pool Leading Edge Member and Means of Deployment
Eugene Egger (Victor, NY, US)
IPC8 Class: AE04H410FI
Class name: Covering including storage area on a roll
Publication date: 2013-01-24
Patent application number: 20130019392
Disclosed is a floating pool cover extender having a rigid, buoyant end
connector that is adapted to connect to the leading edge of a pool cover
and provide a uniform means of drawing the cover across a pool surface
from a single point around the pool perimeter. The device comprises a
buoyant, tubular attachment that clamps onto a pool cover leading edge
that connects to a series of straps to create a rigging, which forms into
a single pool cover tether for the user to pull when deploying the cover.
The tether is an elongated section of material that is pulled by a single
user, wherein the rigging and tubular attachment distributes tension
uniformly along the pool cover leading edge. The trailing edge of the
cover may be unfurled from a roll or alternatively deployed from a
stacked configuration, wherein the trailing edge may also include a
buoyant tubular attachment.
1. A manual pool cover deployment device, comprising: an end member
attaching to a leading edge of said pool cover; a rigging system
attaching to said end member and adapted to evenly distribute load along
said end member length; an elongated user tether attaching to said
rigging such that a single user can apply tension to said rigging and to
said end member from anywhere along said pool perimeter; said end member
comprising a plurality of buoyant segments that are fastened to said pool
cover leading edge and to each other to form a uniform structure across
said pool leading edge width.
2. The device of claim 1, wherein said segments are further connected to one another using a lap joint member that spans between abutting end member segments.
3. The device of claim 1, wherein said rigging comprises: a plurality of intermediate straps that connect along the end member length in a plurality of locations; said intermediate straps connecting to an outer exterior strap; said tether attaching to said exterior strap.
4. The device of claim 1, wherein said end member segments further comprise a pair of segments that sandwich said cover leading edge.
5. The device of claim 1, wherein said end member segments further comprise a pair of open interior segments that sandwich said cover leading edge, said open interior being filled with a buoyant material.
6. The device of claim 1, wherein said pool trailing edge further comprises a second buoyant end member along its length.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/510,831 filed on Jul. 22nd, 2011, entitled "EZ Solar Cover Pull." The patent application identified above is incorporated here by reference in its entirety to provide continuity of disclosure.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to pools and pool covers. More specifically, the present invention relates to an improved means of deploying a surface pool cover, wherein a single user is able to more readily draw the cover from a stowed state across the pool surface using a multi-section tether and floating pool cover edge attachment.
 Above and in-ground pools are enjoyed by many users and are relaxation or exercise areas that are often covered in offseason months, at night or during periods when the pool water temperature is below an optimum level. The use of a solar or heating cover creates a thermal barrier and a means to retain heat below the cover surface for elevating the water temperature to a desired level for user enjoyment. These devices are particularly useful in colder climates or those that involve seasonal changes in weather, wherein cold air and falling debris may reduce the pool temperature and further contaminate the pool during periods of non-use. Pool covers themselves are provided in a variety of forms, shapes and means of deployment or securement. More permanent covers involve ground stake attachments and tensioned securement that creates a flat surface over the pool to prevent debris or passersby from inadvertently falling into the pool during offseason months.
 Deployable covers, and in particular solar pool covers, are generally formed into a roll or folded when stowed, and then pulled over the pool surface when deployed. The process of deploying such structures can be troublesome for a single user, as the surface area of the cover is such that uniformly pulling the cover of the pool is difficult. These covers are generally pulled from an end of the pool and drawn over its length; however the large length and inability of the user to pull the cover from the center of the cover creates folds and kinks in the cover. The width of the pool forces the user to pull the cover as he or she walks alongside the pool's length, drawing out the cover but also drawing tension towards a forward corner rather than a uniform tension along its leading edge. To compound this, the leading edge may tend to sink into the pool while being deployed, which can further exacerbate the problem of drawing the cover over the pool surface. If the user decides to enter the pool while deploying the cover, then he or she runs the risk of being trapped beneath the cover, which is a dangerous situation that places the user at risk of being trapped thereunder.
 The present invention relates to an improved means of deploying a surface cover over a pool surface, wherein the leading edge of the pool cover includes a floating attachment that spans its width and attaches to a series of tethers that form a rigging. The rigging combines into a single tether that allows the user to draw the cover leading edge uniformly across the pool surface from either the side of the pool or from its opposing end, wherein the cover is drawn from a stowed position. The elements of the device are adapted to be attachable to any surface cover and provide a floating, uniformly tensioned and rigid leading edge. The opposing end of the cover may be wound onto a deployable roll structure or folded neatly along one end of the pool prior to deployment.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 Devices have been disclosed in the prior art that relate to pool covers. These include devices that have been patented and published in patent application publications, and generally relate to means of storing or deploying surface pool covers using elements along the boundary of the pool. The forgoing is a list of devices deemed most relevant to the present disclosure, which are herein described for the purposes of highlighting and differentiating the unique aspects of the present invention, and further highlighting the drawbacks existing in the prior art.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,471,500 to Long discloses a self rolling and removable swimming pool cover comprising a buoyant cover member having a conduit to accept a volume of water from a manifold and a water pressure source. Water pressure enters into the conduit and extends the cover outwards from its rolled state, whereafter the water can be withdrawn and a coil spring causes the cover to coil back onto itself into a rolled state. The preferred embodiment includes a cover having lengthwise tube members that comprise the conduit means that are fillable with water. The Long device provides an automatically deploying and retracting pool cover device that utilizes a water pressure source to inject water into the cover and a coil spring to retract the cover. The device requires no user input other than control of the water pump, but requires considerable setup time and sophistication when installing the device prior to use. The present invention is a passive device that provides a tether member and a floating cover leading edge, requiring little setup prior to use other than attachment to an existing cover and neatly stowing the cover during periods of nonuse.
 Another self-deploying pool cover is U.S. Pat. No. 6,618,869 to Jacobs, which discloses a device for placing and removing a pool cover using a pair of reel supports, a reel shaft and a motor to operate the shaft. The cover is wound around the reel shaft and automatically deployed outward or drawn around the shaft, depending on the rotation of the motor and the pool direction. The Jacobs device is one that involves an electric motor and a wound reel for the pool cover to be stored and withdrawn from. The present invention does not require a specific means of storage, but rather discloses a novel leading edge and means of manually drawing the cover over the pool surface using uniform tension and a buoyant attachment.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,195,370 to Budd discloses a device for reeling and un-reeling a flexible pool cover along a swimming pool surface. The device includes a pair of wheeled carriages that are positioned along opposing sides of the pool and connected therebetween by an elongated drum and stabilizing tube. One end of the cover is fixed to an end of the pool, whereafter the carriages are moved along the sides of the pool towards an opposing end. The cover is deployed from the reel by tension in the cover created by the fixed end and the motion of the carriages thereaway from. The device allows the cover to be efficiently deployed and recovered by motion of the carriages, eliminating the need for the user to manually draw on the cover itself. The device therefore differs in intent and design from the present invention, which is a manually drawn end of a cover having a buoyant attachment and a plurality of tethers that create uniform tension thereon.
 Similar to the Budd device is U.S. Pat. No. 5,557,811 to Hoff, which discloses a free floating device for deploying a buoyant flexible pool cover across a pool surface. The device includes a tubular spindle core that is supported by a rolled buoyant pool cover and a means of rotating the spindle core along the sides of the pool. The end of the cover attaches to the core, while the rotation thereof extends out the free edge of the cover along the pool surface. The device of Hoff is more related to a spindle and crank means of deploying a floating cover, as opposed to one that allows the cover to be uniformly pulled from either a rolled or folded state.
 U.S. Published Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0091736 to Smith discloses a device for extending and retracting a pool surface cover, comprising a guide track along the side of the pool and a pulling rope coupled to a pool cover motor. A bracket member attaches to the leading edge of the cover, while the pulling rope attaches to the bracket for extending and drawing in the cover using an electric motor. Similar to the Budd and Hoff devices, the Smith device utilizes a rotary member and a means of deployed a coiled surface cover. The present invention is not limited to such an arrangement prior to deployment, but rather relates to an improved cover leading edge and means of pulling the cover across the pool surface with only a single user from any portion of the pool perimeter.
 The present invention provides an improved means of drawing pool cover across a pool surface with only a single user pulling from anywhere along the pool perimeter. The device provides a leading edge attachment that is buoyant to prevent the cover from sinking, while the user tether places tension uniformly across the pool cover leading edge during deployment. The structure of the leading edge attachment is one preferably of segmented and fastenable construction, wherein the rigging connects thereacross and provides a single user tether for deployment purposes. It is submitted that the present invention is substantially divergent in design elements from the prior art, and consequently it is clear that there is a need in the art for an improvement to existing pool cover deployment devices. In this regard the instant invention substantially fulfills these needs.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of pool cover deployment devices now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new buoyant and single-user deployment means wherein the same can be utilized for providing convenience for the user when manually drawing pool cover across a pool surface from either a coiled or folded state.
 It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved pool cover deployment device that has all of the advantages of the prior art and none of the disadvantages.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a pool cover deployment device that attaches to a surface pool cover leading edge to create a rigid, buoyant end to the cover upon which a user can place tension.
 Another object of the present invention is to provide a pool cover deployment device that provides a plurality of straps and connectors that form a pull tether, wherein a single user may deploy the pool cover from anywhere along the pool perimeter without aid from further users.
 Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a pool cover deployment device that is attachable to any surface pool cover, wherein the leading and trailing edge of the cover may be connected to a buoyant, rigid structure for deployment and floating purposes.
 Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS
 Although the characteristic features of this invention will be particularly pointed out in the claims, the invention itself and manner in which it may be made and used may be better understood after a review of the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein like numeral annotations are provided throughout.
 FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the present invention in connection with a pool cover in a coiled state.
 FIG. 2 shows an exploded view of the present invention connection with a pool cover leading edge.
 FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the device being utilized to draw a pool cover across a pool surface from a coiled position.
 FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of the device being utilized to draw a pool cover across a pool surface from a folded position.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Reference is made herein to the attached drawings. Like reference numerals are used throughout the drawings to depict like or similar elements of the pool cover deployment device. For the purposes of presenting a brief and clear description of the present invention, the preferred embodiment will be discussed as used for allowing a single user to draw a pool cover across a pool surface using a buoyant and support leading edge attachment device. The figures are intended for representative purposes only and should not be considered to be limiting in any respect.
 Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a perspective view of the present invention attached to a coiled pool cover 11. The device comprises an elongated, buoyant and structural member 12 that attaches along an end of the pool cover 11 for the purposes of providing a stable, uniform means of drawing the cover across the pool surface during deployment. A plurality of straps 15, 23 extend from the member 12 and combine to form a rigging upon which a single user can pull the cover 11 from its furled 18 or folded state and across a pool surface. The buoyant member 12 is a cylindrical attachment that includes buoyant material, such as marine or closed-cell foam, which maintains the leading edge of the cover 11 along the pool surface as it is being deployed. The rigging connects to a singular tether 14, which is an elongated strap that extends at least the length of the pool such that the user can pull from anywhere along the pool perimeter. The pulling load on the tether 14 is distributed to the rigging, which uniformly applies tension to the end member 12 and thus to the pool cover leading edge.
 The end member 12 is preferably comprised of a series of semi-circular segments 17 that clamp over the end of a pool cover along opposing surfaces to form a circular member. Within the interior of the member is preferably a buoyant material that maintains the leading edge of the cover above water as it is being pulled across the pool surface. The series of segments 17 are connected by lap joint members 16 that connect over abutting segments 17 and are fastened thereto. In this way, the shorter segments 17 can be aligned along the edge of the pool cover and accommodate differing edge lengths for different covers. The intermediate straps 15 connect to the end member 12 in a sandwich construction, wherein a fastener secures a first end of the intermediate strap to the end member, while the intermediate strap second end attaches to an elongated exterior strap 23 that connects to all intermediate straps and to the user tether 14. In its working state, the trailing edge of the pool cover 11 may include a coiled roller 19 for stowing the cover when not in use, or alternatively the cover 11 may be folded onto itself without the user of a roller 19. In either embodiment, the trailing edge of the cover 11 may further include a second end member 12, which maintains the pool second end in a buoyant state above the pool surface once deployed.
 Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a view of the leading edge of a pool cover 11 and an exploded attachment view of the present end member. The end member is a buoyant structure that adds flotation and stiffness to the pool cover leading edge such that the end does not buckle, sink or tear while being pulled by the user. The end member further maintains the pool cover leading edge within the confines of the pool width, such that a user aggressively pulling the cover from one side of the pool does not pull the cover onto a surface adjacent to the pool. In its preferred construction, the end member is one of several connectable segments 17 that comprise semi-circular or open interior cross sections. Within the interior of the segments 17 is a buoyant foam material, while the geometry of the member is such that two segments 17 are clamped together along the end of the cover. Abutting segments 17 are further added until the entire edge length is supported. The segments are then connected together and to the pool edge using a row of fasteners and a lap joint member 16, which spans any gaps between end member segments 17. Fasteners are driven through the lap joint, complimentary end member segments on both sides of the cover and through the pool cover itself, such that the assembly is secured together and can accept loads from the rigging during deployment with buckling, bending or failing.
 Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, there are shown perspective views of the present invention in a working state, wherein the end member 12 and rigging 13 is being utilized to pull the cover 11 from a furled or folded state and over the pool surface 21. As shown, the tether 14 is utilized by a user to pull the leading edge of the cover 11 across the pool without assistance from other individuals. The tether 14 attaches to the rigging 13, which is a combination of intermediate straps 15 and exterior rigging straps 23 that connect to the end member 12 in a plurality of locations to distribute the tension from the user tether 14. The end member 12 is a composite structure that clamps onto the end of the cover leading edge and further connects to the rigging intermediate straps 15 using through-fasteners. The end member thus provides anchor points for the rigging, a means to keep the leading edge of the cover afloat and a rigid structure that accepts tension load from the tether 14 and evenly distributes it across the pool cover end. In a first embodiment, the cover is placed onto a rolling dispenser 19, which is utilized to coil the cover in a stowed state. In an alternate embodiment, the unused length of cover can be stored in a stacked configuration 22. As mentioned, either of these embodiments may further include a cover trailing edge with a second end member for further flotation and control when deployed.
 When covering a pool with a standard or solar pool cover, the cover may not evenly cover the whole pool or evenly unfold/uncoil when being deployed. The cover may only cover the side of the pool the individual is standing along, causing the user to go from side-to-side of the pool to attend to the uneven coverage of the pool. This requires the user to continually bend over and reach for the cover until the entire pool is covered, which can be strenuous in the heat and difficult to do for some users. Further, the cover may begin to sink into the pool if not deployed efficiently, which adds weight to the cover when trying to retrieve it from under the water. The present invention pertains to a device that can be used by individuals to evenly unroll and cover a pool without needing the help or assistance of other people, and further deploy a cover with uniform tension across its leading edge for the purposes of preventing tears. This device can be attached to the end of a pool's cover via segmented pieces spanning the width of the cover that can then be attached to a rigging system that forms into a single, elongated tether that can be pulled from the opposite end or from the side of the pool. The pulling action can unroll the cover evenly, without having to walk around the edges of the pool and straighten out the sides. Construction of the end member is one of structural material that may further have buoyant properties or have buoyant material attached thereto. This includes plastic members, wood, composite or any other suitable material that one skilled in the art of pool covers may utilize.
 It is therefore submitted that the instant invention has been shown and described in what is considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments. It is recognized, however, that departures may be made within the scope of the invention and that obvious modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art. With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.
 Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.