| The present invention relates to the field of vehicle top carriers. More particularly, the present invention relates to a carrier for a vehicle that is flush mounted and is open on the top.
Discussion of the Relevant Art
Carriers positioned on the top of vehicles are well known. These systems include racks mounted onto the vehicle top. Racks mounted to the vehicle onto which other attachments can be affixed. Flush mounted tops or carriers which have doors or panels or which lift from the top of the vehicle and which luggage is stored underneath.
The vehicle rack system which is often standard with many vehicles typically has two side bars that extend on the roof of the vehicle along its length. Attached to these are two bars which run perpendicular to the side bars. Luggage can be placed between the two perpendicularly positioned bars. The luggage is then tied into place with straps, ropes or bungee cords. The two bars prevent the luggage from sliding back and forth, the tie down prevents the luggage from falling off the vehicle. In this scenario, the luggage is exposed on the top front roof of the vehicle and acts as a wind break significantly reducing gas milage.
Often racks are mounted onto vehicles onto which other attachments are affixed. Two such rack systems are manufactured by Thule and Yakima. The Thule and Yakima double rack system has racks which are positioned perpendicular to the length of the vehicle and are generally located near the front and/or the back of the roof of the vehicle. These systems include closeable carriers that can hold cargo. These closeable carriers are aerodynamic but must be opened and closed for cargo to be placed inside the carriers. These systems are not flush mounted and therefore lose some of the aerodynamics of the vehicle design. If one of the lids of the carriers were to come open, it would be ripped from the carrier and the carrier would be rendered basically useless.
Another type of carrier is flush mounted to the top of a van and allows for luggage to be positioned underneath it. This type of carrier is difficult to load because it usually is hinged on one edge and does not leave sufficient space for luggage to be stacked into the carrier. An example of this type of carrier is sold under the trademark TURTLETOP.
Summary of the Invention
The above discussed and other problems of the prior art are solved by the flush mounted, open top, vehicle carrier of the present invention. The carrier of the present invention is designed to be mounted flush along the edges of the roof of the vehicle to enable an aerodynamic transition from the vehicle to the carrier. The carrier is designed in a manner that has an aerodynamic ferring as its front surface, walls extending from the ferring along its side to the back of the carrier, and a cross bar or bars extending between the two side walls at the back of the carrier. The ferring, walls and crossbar define an opening for carrying luggage and other cargo, this opening includes a base. The base of the carrier that is surrounded by the ferring, the side walls and the cross bars is contiguous with these pieces and includes reinforcement such as ribs or the like. The reinforcement strengthens both the carrier and the roof of the vehicle allowing for additional weight per square foot to be loaded into the carrier.
The carrier is mounted to the vehicle with a set of clamps that are positioned along the side walls of the carrier. The clamps are joined to the carrier with mechanical fasteners such as nuts, bolts and washers. The clamp folds down and couples to the rain guard or door frame of the vehicle and when in closed position holds the carrier tightly to the vehicle. The bottom perimeter of the carrier as well as the base includes a neoprene gasket. The neoprene along the perimeter fills any air space between the outer perimeter of the carrier as defined by the outer bottom edge of the ferring, sides and back, and prevents moisture and air from entering any space below the rack. This also results in improved aerodynamics.
The neoprene positioned under the base, protects the top of the vehicle by creating a slight gap between the base of the carrier and the vehicle top. It also helps to prevent any slippage of the carrier when it is mounted onto the vehicle.
Once the carrier is clipped into position, luggage is simply placed on top of the carrier in the space defined by the ferring, sides and back bars. The floor of this space is preferably rough textured so that an individual can stand on it to manipulate luggage and other materials. On the inner wall of the carrier sides are positioned in a plurality of tied down rings. These rings allow for the cargo to be covered with a tarpaulin or other cloth and then tied down with rope, straps or bungee cords. The carrier of the present invention is very easy to load and unload, and can store a considerable amount of luggage.
Other accessories can be incorporated into the carrier of the present invention. This carrier may include storage or racks for skis, snow boards, bicycles, canoes or kayaks. The accessory storage may either be positioned on the base of the carrier or extend inwardly from the sidewalls. Additionally, if there is a space under the ferring that defines the front portion of the carrier, this space may be insulated and used as a cooler, or alternatively be used to store small cargo that should not be exposed to the elements.
An alternate embodiment of the present invention exists for pickup trucks. It is very common to cap the bed of a pickup, but the top of the cap is not supported and generally cannot be used to haul additional material. The carrier of the present invention can be built into a standard pickup truck cap. The ferring, described above, extends over the roof of the cab and is flush mounted. From the ferring extends the sidewalls all the way to the back of the cap. The base of the cap is supported by an integral frame that extends from the sides of the bed and supports longitudinally extending frame work that extends from the back of the cap to the cab section. This frame work supports the base of the carrier that is integrally formed into the cap. Thus the pickup bed is covered by the cap and can be used for camping gear, materials that need to be locked or covered and smaller materials, while the carrier can be used to store additional gear. The carrier portion of this alternate embodiment has the same features as the present invention but is integrally located on the top of the cap.
The preferred material for manufacturing the cap is fiberglass impregnated with an epoxy resin. The fiberglass is laid up on a form and then epoxy is coated over the fiberglass and ultimately impregnates the fiberglass. Once formed the whole assembly is painted. Other materials that may be used are fiberglass and epoxy pre-preg sheets, structural foam, sintered plastic and the like. Ideally any such material would be reinforced.