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Publication numberUS2662771 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 15, 1953
Filing dateMar 22, 1949
Priority dateMar 22, 1949
Publication numberUS 2662771 A, US 2662771A, US-A-2662771, US2662771 A, US2662771A
InventorsCrowley Cornelius J
Original AssigneeSeamless Rubber Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Athletic ball
US 2662771 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 15, 1953 c. J. CROWLEY ATHLETIC BALL 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed March 22, 1949 ATTORNEYS C. J. CROWLEY ATHLETIC BALL Dec. 15, 1953 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed March 22, 1949 ATTOR N 5Y5 Dec. 15, 1953 c. .1. CROWLEY 2,662,771

' ATHLETIC BALL Filed March 22, 1949 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Dec. 15, 1953 c J, CROWLEY 2,662,771


Filed March 22, 1949 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 ATTORNEYS Patented Dec. 15, 1953 ATHLETIC BALL Cornelius J. Crowley, New Haven, Conn., assignor to The Seamless Rubber Company, New Haven, Conn., a corporation of Connecticut Application March 22, 1949, Serial No. 82,786

This invention relates to inflatable athletic balls, and has particular reference to a spherical ball such as a basketball or volley ball, although not limited in all aspects to a ball of that type.

An object of the invention is to provide a ball structure such that the article may be manufactured with great accuracy as to size and shape without the need of using an interior form or last.

Another object is to provide a spherical ball of such structure and constitution that, inthe use of the article the spherical shape will be maintained, and, in particular, the ball as it is subject to use will not be deformed so as to take the shape of an oblate spheroid.

A further object is to provide a ball structure involving a layer of fabric pieces, in which there is no objectionable concentration of thickness or weight at any point.

Another purpose is to provide a ball structure in which fabric pieces are used, wherein there is a minimum thickness of fabric, and consequently a minimum weight of fabric so that a greater proportion of the allowable weight of the ball can be apportioned to the covering layer, or elsewhere.

A further object is to provide a ball structure having a reinforcing fabric layer of an improved kind, and in which there is provided a superior cushioning of the fabric, and in which the ball wall combines a number of advantageous features.

In the accompanying drawings:

Fig. 1 is an elevation of a basketball constructed in accordance with the invention;

Fig. 2 is an elevation, with the wall broken away to disclose the several layers;

Fig. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the wall;

Figs. 4 and 5 are elevations taken at right angles to each other, showing the structure as it appears after the fabric layer has been placed in position, and before the application of the cover;

Figs. 6 to 17, inclusive, are somewhat diagrammatic views illustrating the method of construct- 4 Claims. (01173- 65) ing the ball, as hereinafter described, Fig. 13 being a view of the article of Fig. 12 taken from the opposite side, Fig. 14 being a view of the article of Fig. 12 tipped up at an angle of and Fig. 15 being a view of the article of Fig. 14 turned laterally at an angle of 90";

Fig. 18 is an enlarged sectional view of the valve portion of the ball as it appears after the application of the fabric layer and before the cover is applied; and

Fig. 19 is a sectional view of the ball wall showing the same as it appears before the application of pressure in a mold.

By way of example there is described in this case a basketball and the steps employed in its manufacture. The ball shown in the drawings has an outer cover of rubber, the term rubber being used in a broad sense so as to include rubberlike material, as well as natural rubber and synthetic rubber. The outer cover may, however, bemade, of leather or similar material. The ball is of spherical shape, butin certain aspects the invention is not limited to a spherical ball.

As disclosed in Fig. 2, the ball has an inflatable rubber bladder, indicated at 30, the bladder being part of a carcass which has externally and immediately adjacent the bladder a layer iii of thread or likestranded or filamentary element wound on great circles and embedded in a mass of rubber; and immediately adjacent and externally of the layer 3! is a layer 32 of fabric strips. Applied to the layer 32 is a rubber cover 33. The rubber cover 33 may be provided by molding with a suitable roughened external surface, and it may be provided with a suitable surface-groove formation, indicated at 34.

The bladder :30 is provided with a suitable valve 35, illustrated as a rubber valve, adapted to receive an inflating needle. This valve may advantageously be of the type disclosed in the DeLaney and Madsen Patent No. 2,065,121, dated December 22, 1936. By reference to Fig. 18 it is apparent that in the case shown the valve has a rubber body 36 provided at the upper portion with a securing flange 31. The body 38 is received in an opening of the blader, and the flange '31 overlies the bladder wall and is adhesively secured to the bladder wall round the opening. Projecting upwardly from the valve body 36 is a rubber stem portion 38 of the valve, into which the inflating needle can be introduced.

The carcass includes the bladder and the reinforcing layers 3| and 32, and in the form shown'the bladder and these layers and the covapplied to the underlying layer it adheres thereto, and so that it is possible to adhere a strip to an underlying strip in creating a fabric layer that encases the layer having the thread winding. In the form shown, the strips employed in the layer 32 have a width of about two inches, which is a convenient width, but of course strips of other widths can be used.

The structure of the ball wall will be more fully understood from the following description of a preferred method of constructing the ball.

The bladder has a relatively thin rubber wall and the bladder is vulcanized orpartly vulcanized as a preliminary step, and the valve is placed in position. The bladder is then inflated to a slight extent to create a resilient but fairlyjlrn i sphere. Inasmuch as it is important to make the ball spherical within very close limits without the need of employing an inner form, the bladder used is preferably made by accurately cutting a number of pieces such as quadrants, and seaming them together in the manner described in the Madsen Patent No. 2,218,919 of October 22, 1940. The bladder as inflated, and with the valve stem projecting therefrom, is illustrated in Fig. 6, and is ready for the application of the threads, as shown in Fig. 7. The bladder is placed in a suitable winding machine, which winds on a length of thread substantially on great circles, with a suitable amount of tension, so as to form a strain-resisting layer of thread. The thread as wound on the bladder may be coated with uncured rubber, and this is the preferable procedure, but in some cases a plain thread can be used.

The next step is the application to the wound ball of a layer of uncured rubber. It is preferred to encase the wound ball within a thin layer of uncured rubber sheeting, and this layer may consist of quadrants 4! (Fig. '8) of sheet material interconnected in spherical shape by having their adjacent edge portions overlapped, as shown at 62, and adhesively secured together.

The next step is the application of the fabric layer 32, made of rubberized fabric strips or tapes having the arrangement shown in Figs. 4 and 5. This involves the operations shown in Figs. 9 to 16, inclusive. The first operation "consists in encircling the rubber-covered article of Fig. 8 by a fabric strip Or tape laid on a great circle which coincides with the valye, this strip being afiixed to the underlying rubber and having end portions which are overlapped on each other and secured together "slightly to one side of the valve. The strip in question 'is'indicated at 43, and its overlapping end portions are indicated at 44, in Fig. 9. Near one end it-is provided with a perforation 45 which enables that portion of the strip or tape to 'be'fitted-ab'out the projecting stem of the valve. 7

The next operation is to apply to the article of Fig. 9 a strip reinforcement which is at 90 to the strip 43, on a great circle passing through the valve. This strip reinforcement may advantageously comprise two identical'strips '46 each of which is slightly less length than a half circle, so that the'extremities of each stripd' may slightly overlap and be secured to the strip 43', as indicated at 41'.

The next operation consists in'applying to the article of Fig. 10 a great circle strip reinforcethese strips being slightly lapped at its ends upon the underlying strips, as indicated at 4'9.

The next operation involves the partial filling in by short strips 50 of the eight open or uncovered quadrants which are presented as a result of the preceding operations. The strips 53 are of substantially the same length as the strips 48, being of somewhat less length than a quarter of the circle, and being adapted to lap to an extent upon the strips previously applied. The manner of applying the strips 59 is apparent from Figs. 12 to 15, inclusive, Fig. 13 being a reverse view of Fig. '12, and Fig. 15 showing the article 'of Fig. l4 turned through on a vertical axis. As shown in these views, the strips 5a in a given hemispherepf the ball alternate in the directions in which they are applied to the underlying sphere. For example, in the upper hemisphere of Fig. 12, the strip 50 to the left is on a great circle coinciding with the valve, whereas the strip 58 to the right is on a circle having poles at the upper and lower parts of the call. In the lower hemisphere the strip 50 to the left is on a circle having poles at the upper and lower parts of the ball and the strip to the right is on a great circle passing through the valve. The result is that the eight strips 59 employed are arranged in four pairs, each pair being in a different plane and each of said planes being disposed between the planes of two of the primary strip encirclements 43, 46 and 48. Each of the strips '53 at one extremity is lapped upon an underlying strip substantially midway 'of the base "of the 163138C tive open quadrant, and at the opposite extremity is lapped upon underlying strips adjacent 'a pole portion of the ball, as shown in the drawings.

The next step in the formation of the fabric layer is the filling in of the remaining open spaces at the sides of the previously mentioned quadrants. This is efiected by the applicatio'n oi strips 5| that are somewhat shorter than the strips -50. In the case illustrated all of the strips used in making the fabric layer are of the same width, but obviously this is not essential in all cases. Inasmuch as the strips 59 bisect the quadrant shaped spaces, the spaces remaining are in the nature of octants, and the strips 5| cover these spaces, being disposed on great circles and each extending from a part of a quadrant base, with a certain amount of overlap on the strip presenting the base, toward and past the apex of the octant and overlapping the adjacent strip til at one side and overlapping at the opposite side the adjacent primary strip reinforcement. Here I use the term primary strip reinforcement" as referring to the primary great-circle strip reinforcements '43, 46 and 48, or equivalent encircling elements. It will lie-apparent that at 'each side of the quadrantbisecting strip one 'of the shorter strips 51 is placed in position in such a manner that the latter strip -is directed toward the same poles as the quadrant-bisecting 'strip just mentioned. 7

The next step is to 'apply u'ncured rubber for the formation of the outer rubber-cover, in case the ball is to have an outer cover of rubber, and this may be done by applying sheet stock to "the article to create aspherical enclosure, as shown in Fig. 17. In this particular casethe cover coinprises quadrants of rubber sheet, indicated at52,

which quadrants are adhesively interconnected by lap joints Thearticle of Fig. 1'7 is then placed in'a suitable forming mold of a predetermined diameter slightly "larger than that or the said article, and while in the mold the article is inflated by connecting the inflating valve to a source of compressed air so as to cause the wall of the ball to be stretched, and the outer surface of the external rubber layer forced into intimate contact with the forming surface of the mold. The result of this is that exteriorly the ball is given the accurate spherical shape of the mold, and the several layers forced together to create a thinner dense mass in which the layers are all in intimate contact. The internal air pressure may be one of, say, sixty-five pounds per square inch. The effect of such pressure is to force the bladder wall against the thread layer, and the thread layer against the layer 49 of uncured rubber, thereby driving the thread turns in an outward direction into the uncured rubber so as to become embedded therein, and in this manner there is provided an intermediate layer of thread and rubber filling the space between the bladder and the'fabric layer. The fabric layer in turn is forced into intimate contact with the covering layer. The pressure in the mold is maintained for about fifteen minutes, and during this period the mold is subjected to heat for purposes of vulcanization, the effect of which is to vulcanize all of the rubber employed in the construction of the ball wall, and to bond all of the layers together. After treatment in the mold, as thus described, the article can be removed from the mold and will then be ready for use.

The ball as thus constructed has a relatively thin wall. portion between the covering layer and the bladder, owing to the fact that the layer of rubber containing the thread turns is relatively thin, and to the fact that the fabric layer is relatively thin. The wall of the ball shown in the drawings may be of a total thickness of .115 inch. This dimension is given only by way of example, but it will be understood that the ball preferably has a thin, resilient wall, including strain-resisting layers that are ample for resisting growth or expansion within allowable limits as the ball is used.

An advantage in the use of the fabric strips as above described is that these strips or tapes, while thin, are very strong, and are relatively narrow so that they can readily be conformed snugly to the underlying spherical body in the process of manufacture. These strips are used to provide in thise case three primary strip reinforcements that are located in perpendicular planes and serve well to control the shape as well as the size of the ball by providing strong resistance to strains in at least three directions. These primary strip reinforcements provide the basis or the ground-work of the fabric enclosure, which, as above described, is completed by the application of the quadrant-bisecting strips and the application of the octant-covering strips, so that the entire area of the underlying rubber is covered over by fabric, although in some cases all of the described procedures may not be necessary. The short quadrant-bisecting tapes are in the aggregate directed toward three pairs of poles which are in the planes or the primary tape encirclements.

Fig. 19 is an enlarged view showing the wall before the article is subjected to pressure in the mold. This view shows the rather loose layer of thread turns and the intermediate rubber layer, previous to the step of compacting and condensing the wall. The threads or cords are preferably of rayon or like material that will stretch in the molding operation but will not stretch after the ball has been vulcanized.

The intermediate rubber layer lies against the bladder and the enclosing fabric layer, so as to give resilient support therefor, and acts advantageously as a cushioning or compensating element which tends to take up and compensate for inequalities and unevenness in the external contiguous fabric layer. The fabric layer serves as an effective locking and anchoring foundation for the ball cover.

While the ball is described as being provided with a rubber cover or similar cover, which is vulcanized at the same time that the remaining parts of the ball wall are subjected to pres sure and vulcanized, it will be understood that in some cases the article may be molded after the application of the fabric layer, so as to provide a carcass to which a cover'may be applied at a later stage.

By this invention it is possible to make a very satisfactory and durable ball which is spherical- 'ly shaped within very close limits without the need of using an interior form or last, and for that reason the manufacturing process is very simplified. Moreover, the ball is of such structure that the spherical shape originally given the article will be maintained, notwithstanding hard usage, for the reason that there is provision for resisting expansion of the ball in a large number of different directions. In particular, the ball as it is subject to use will not be deformed so as to take the shape of an oblate spheroid, on account of the described arrangement of the primary strip reinforcements and the subsidiary strips, or so-called filler strips. While it is necessary to use only one layer of fabric pieces in the Wall, the fabric enclosure will resist strains in all directions in an effective manner, especially as a result of the alternating disposition of the strips in quadrants that are placed laterally with respect to each other, as herein described, the filler strips in the quadrants being directed toward different pairs of poles. Another distinct benefit of the described arrangement of the fabric pieces is that there is no objectionable concentration of thickness or weight at any point or location. As will have been noted, there are, in the preferred form, three pairs of poles in the fabric layer. Moreover, by providing a structure having only one layer of fabric pieces, there is a minimum thickness of fabric in the wall, and therefore a greater proportion of the allowable weight of the ball can be apportioned to the covering layer, for example, where it can be used very advantageously, and this advantage is obtained while retaining the other advantages referred to above.

Various changes in the details and in the described procedure may be maole without departing from the principles of the invention or the scope of the claims.

What I claim is:

1. A spherical athletic ball carcass comprising primary great-circle encircling reinforcement tapes of narrow fabric in planes substantially at to each other forming between them substantially quadrant-shaped spaces, and short filler tapes of substantially quadrant length substantially bisecting the quadrant-shaped spaces applied over said primary tapes, certain of said filler tapes being directed toward two poles of the ball and others being directed toward two other poles, and still others being directed toward a third pair of poles.

2. A spherical athletic ball carcass comprising great-circle encircling tape reinforcements in planes at 90 to each other presenting a plurality of quadrantshaped open spaces, and short tapes of substantially quadrant length; substantially bisecting the quadrant-shaped spaces, said last named tapes in a given hemisphere of the ball having alternating arrangement so as to be directed alternately to different poles.

3. A spherical athletic ball carcass comprising great-circle encircling tape reinforcements in planes at 90 to each other presenting a plurality of quadrant-shaped open spaces, and short tapes of substantially quadrant length substantially 'biseating the quadrant-shaped spaces, said lastnamed tapes in a given hemisphere of the ball having alternating arrangement so as to be directed alternately to different poles, the spaces at the respective sides of each of said tapes being covered. by tapes which are shorter than the bisecting tapes and directed on great circles toward the same poles as the b'isecting tapes.

4. A spherical athletic ball comprising a valveequipped bladder, a winding of thread turns covering the bladder, the thread turns being disposed on great circles, primary great-circle ball-encircling reinforcements in the form of tapes of narrow fabric disposed in planes at 90 to each other outwardly of the thread turns and forming on the ball quadrant-shaped intervening spaces and three pairs of poles, and short tapes of approximately quadrant length applied to the first tapes so as to divide the quadrants into octants, said short tapes being directed toward said three pairs of poles.


References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 726,503 Browning et al. Apr. 23, 1903 2,091,684 Maliee Aug. 31, 1937 2,157,580 Volt et a1. May 9, 1939 2,194,132 Voit et al Mar. 19, 1940 2,300,441 Volt et a1. Nov. 3, 1942 2,324,277 Casey et a1 July 13, 1943 2,380,370 Smith July 10, 1945 2,399,324 Clark Apr. 30, 1946 2,483,234 Roberts Sept. 27, 1949

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4333648 *Jan 25, 1980Jun 8, 1982Molten Rubber Industry Co., Ltd.Inflatable game ball
US8574104 *Feb 22, 2010Nov 5, 2013Hung Da ChouInflatable sport ball structure and manufacturing method thereof
US8579744 *Sep 5, 2010Nov 12, 2013Yu-Lin CHOUPneumatic inflation valve core for inflatable sports ball
US20100167850 *Dec 29, 2009Jul 1, 2010Long Way Enterprise Co., LtdSeamless ball structure
US20110015011 *Feb 22, 2010Jan 20, 2011Hung Da ChouInflatable sport ball structure and manufacturing method thereof
US20110177895 *Jul 21, 2011Long Way Enterprise Co., Ltd.Inner bladder structure for ball
US20120058846 *Sep 5, 2010Mar 8, 2012Yu-Lin CHOUPneumatic inflation valve core for inflatable sports ball
US20140256477 *Jul 8, 2011Sep 11, 2014DecathlonBall, particularly for basketball practice, and corresponding manufacture method
U.S. Classification473/610, 156/170, 156/147
International ClassificationA63B39/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B39/00
European ClassificationA63B39/00