US 2793859 A
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y 1957 H. F. DARLING ET AL 2,793,859
BASEBALL BAT AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME Filed Feb. 8, 1.955 2, Sheets-Sheet l INVENTORS HAROLD F. DARLING ERNEST DARLING Q ATTOR EY WW I May 28, 1957 H. F. DARLING ET AL 2,793,859
BASEBALL BAT AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME Filed Feb. 8, 1955 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 HAROLD F DAQLING ERNEST DARLING INVENTORS BY fl MW THE/E A T 7 OANE Y BASEBALL BAT AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME Harold F. Darling, Dolgeville, and Ernest Darling, Little Falls, N. Y.
Application February 8, 1955, Serial No. 486,767
3 Claims. (Cl. 273-72) This invention relates to baseball bats and a method of making bats wherein the normal ball contacting areas are hardened to prevent damage thereto and prolongthe life of the bat.
It is well known that ordinary wooden baseball bats will chip and splinter after contact with a baseball or other object even after just a few times. This is particularly so in professional baseball where a bat is subjected to almost continuous use, packing and unpacking, etc., and the problem of chipping is particularly annoying to the players who often just find a bat they like and can hit with, only to have the umpire bar it from the game after a few days or weeks use, because the surface has become chipped or roughened.
Many solutions have been suggested such as impregnating the wood fibers with glue and resins but none has proved satisfactory for various reasons such as loss of life, excessive weight, and so forth. According to the present invention we have eliminated the chipping problem and provide an improved bat at the same time.
Accordingly it is an object of the present invention to provide a baseball hat that will not chip. It is another object to provide an improved'baseball hat that will not chip or splinter in the ball contacting area and in which the desirable handling characteristics are not destroyed. It is another object to provide a chip-proof baseball bat billet that may be worked to the desired final form without destroying the chip-proofcharacteristics. It is another object to provide a baseball bat having the ball contacting area compacted and hardened to prevent chipping and splintering. It is still another object to provide a method for forming chip-proof bats easily and economically. These and other and further objects will in part be apparent and in part pointed out as the specification proceeds.
In the drawings:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a press and dies for performing the present invention with an unformed bat billet positioned between said dies.
Figure 2 is a cross-section on line II-II of Figure 1 showing the original shape of the unformed bat billet.
Figure 3 is a view similar to Figure 1 showing the press and dies in the pressure or closed position. 1
Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view on line IVIV of Figure 3. p s
Figure 5 is a perspective view of a finished bat with the hardened portion indicated by stippling.
It is well known that Wood generally consists of superposed substantially parallel layers of wood fibers alternating with superposed layers of porous growth rings which latter layers are relatively soft and frangible. It is these porous growth rings which are easily damaged in the ordinary baseball bat and cause the so-called chipping problem.
According to the present invention we have discovered that with the proper choice of wood for the bat billet relative to kind, and moisture content, and by subjecting atent O Patented May 28, 1957 it to controlled temperature and pressure treatment the porous layers may be compacted together with the wood fiber layers to form a baseball bat having a hardness approaching that of metal or stone.
As is well known in the industry weight and size are very sensitive and important factors in the production of high quality baseball bats. Since at least a portion of the bat according to the present invention is highly compressed, these problems are somewhat accentuated, however, we have found that properly controlled the increased density is an advantage. By using a light resilient type of wood, such as Southern Ash, and choosing only the best and lightest top wood to form the bat billets, a very nicely balanced baseball bat may be produced.
For instance in one satisfactory embodiment of the present invention a stick of top wood, Southern Ash, was
kiln dried to a moisture content of 12 percent and formed to a billet shape approximating that shown in Figure 2,
placed between the dies of Figure 1, for a length of 15" of the barrel portion, heated to a temperature of 230 F. and compacted under a pressure of 40 tons Per square inch for a period of 15 minutes. This produced a base ball bat when finishedhaving a hardness according to the Standard R Scale, V2" Ball Rockwell Test of 65. A bat produced in this manner has been found to be substantially chip-proof while still retaining the desired feel and life.
Referring now to Figure 1 there is shown an apparatus for forming a baseball bat according to the present invention. A baseball bat billet 10 formed, as will be described herein, is positioned between upper and lower forming dies 12 and 14 respectively. Dies 12 and 14 are mounted by suitable means such as bolts 15 in jaw 16 and on the bed 18 of any suitable press mechanism 19 capable of exerting a pressure of 40 to 50 tons per square inch, on an object positioned therein. The details of such a machine are not shown for the sake of simplicity it being understood that any suitable mechanical mechanism may be employed.
Dies 12 and 14 have positioned therein electrical heat ing elements 20, 21, 22 and 23 of a size and capacity to heat said bat billet 10 to a temperature of from 200 F. to 250 F. Wires 25 and 26 from each heating element are connected through a thermostat (not shown) to any suitable power source. Other suitable heating elements may be employed but we have found the said electrical means readily permits the accurate and sensitive control necessary for the proper performance of the present invention.
In making a bat according to the present invention a stick of light, resilient wood, such as Southern Ash, is dried to a moisture content of 8 to 12 percent and then cut down to form the bat billet or blank 10 shown in Figure 1. As may be seen in Figure 2 the bat billet it) has a somewhat elliptical cross section in the barrel portion thereof. It will also be noted that the grain layers are substantially perpendicular to the major diameter of the ellipse and the billet is positioned between the dies with said major diameter in a substantially vertical position. v p
The minor diameter of the eliptical cross section is slightly larger than the diameter of dies 12 and 14 so that when the bat blank 10 is placed in die 14 it does not quite bottom. Nevertheless it is substantially completely confined against lateral expansion when the dies 12 and 14 are brought together so that most of'the compacting and compressing of the fibers takes place in a direction parallel to the major diameter. Thus when the billet is placed between the dies 12 and 14 it is constrained against lateral expansion and in fact is actually compressed a little in the lateral direction but the major compression takes place along the major elipse diameter. This causes the alternate layers of porous growth rings to be highly compacted together with the wood fiber layers until a dense and hard barrel portion is obtained. It has been found particularly advantageous to treat only the normal ball contacting end portion of the bat in this manner since it permits a proper balance between size and weight. Since this compacting increases the weight per unit cross-sectional area care must be exercised in choosing the wood and length of compression so as not to get a bat that is either too heavy or too thin.
For instance where a finished diameter of 2 and inches is desired for the bat-blank barrel portion, a bat blank having a minor diameter of 2 and inches and a major diameter of 3 and 7 inches has been found to be entirely satisfactory. When such a blank is compressed in dies having a diameter of 2 and 1 inches a reduction in major diameter of 12 to 18 percent and cross-sectional area of 1 to percent is obtained. This has been found to produce a hardness, using a /2 ball on the R Scale of a Standard Rockwell Tester of from 55-80 which is approximately 2 to 3 times harder than'the wood of the untreated handle portion.
Expressed in another manner the U. S. Department of Agriculture ranks the hardness of woods according to the load necessary to imbed a .444 inch diameter ball into the wood a depth equal to one half its diameter. ing hickory, the hardest wood, as 100 commercial untreated white ash used by applicant has a rating of 77. White ash treated according to the present invention, and tested in this manner has a rating of from 150 to 200. Thus since hardness is essentially resistance to penetration the treated barrel portion of a bat according to the present invention is from two to three times harder than the handle portion.
This compressed condition is shown in Figures 3 and where the compression has been exaggerated somewhat for the sake of clarity. As can be seen, the relative area of the porous growth layers has been materially reduced in relation to the area of the wood fiber layers. This compression is accomplished by placing the bat blank 10 between dies 12 and 14, partially closing them about blank 10, heating them and the blank to a temperature of 21.0 F. to 250 F. and then closing the dies tightly together under a pressure of from 12 to 60 tons per square inch for a period of time offrom 15 to 30 minutes. The exact temperature and pressure used depends on the type of wood used, the degree of hardness desired, and the moisture content of the wood, the finer grained woods requiring the lesser heats and pressures and the coarser grains requiring the greater heats and pressures.
The compacted bat blank 10 may then be turned down to the desired final size in the usual manner except that specially hardened tools approaching those commonly employed in metal working must be used.
Figure 5 shows a finished bat according to the present invention with the hardened area indicated by stippling. It will be noted that the finishing operation to produce the bat of Figure 5 has not destroyed the hardened characteristics of the bat, since as shown in Figure 4 the bat has been hardened uniformly throughout its entire crosssection in the barrel portion.
While there is given above a certain specific example of this invention and its application in practical use, it should be understood that this is not intended to be exhaustive or to be limiting of the invention. On the contrary, this illustration and explanation herein are given in order to acquaint others skilled in the art with this invention and the principals thereof and a suitable manner of its application in practical use, so that others skilled in the art may be enabled to modify the invention and to adapt and apply it in numerous forms each as may be best suited to the requirement of a particular use.
1. A wooden baseball bat of the type having a handle portion and a barrel portion and a barrel portion constituted of superposed substantially parallel layers of wood fibers alternating with superposed layers of porous growth rings comprising in combination a handle portion of natural untreated wood, a barrel portion comprising the outer ten to fifteen inches of the length of said baseball bat said barrel portion having a homogeneous cross-section in which the layers of porous growth rings are substantially compressed and compacted relative to said handle portion throughout the entire cross-sectional area thereof whereby a baseball bat is provided in which the barrel portion thereof is from two to three times harder than the handle portion and substantially chip-proof in the'ball contacting area thereof.
2. The method of forming a chip-proof wooden baseball bat which comprises forming from a stick of wood constituted of superposed substantially parallel layers of wood fibers alternating with superposed layers of porous growth rings, a bat blank having a handle and barrel portion, said handle and barrel portions being chemically untreated, said barrel portion having an elliptical cross section with the major diameter thereof substantially perpendicular to the superposed layers of wood fiber and growth rings; heating the barrel portion of said blank to a temperature from 210 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit; compressing and compacting said barrel portion under a pres sure of at least twelve tons per square inch in a direction substantially perpendicular to the said fiber layers until the cross section of said barrel portion becomes substantially circular, to compact and harden said growth rings in said barrel into a homogeneous mass with said fiber rings having a uniform hardness throughout greater than double the hardness of said handle portion whereby a hard chip-proof baseball bat having a greatly increased life is obtained without loss of feel therein.
3. The method of forming a chip-proof baseball bat which comprises forming from a stick of Wood constituted of superposed substantially parallel layers of wood fibers alternating with superposed layers of porous growth rings, a bat blank having a handle and barrel portion, said barrel portion having an elliptical cross-section with the major diameter thereof substantially perpendicular to the superposed layers of wood fiber and growth rings; heating the barrel portion of said blank to an elevated temperature; compressing and compacting said barrel portion in a direction substantially perpendicular to the said fiber layers while maintaining the minor diameter substantially constant until said major diameter is reduced from 12 to 18 l per cent whereby the cross-section of said barrel portion becomes substantially circular and of a uniformly denser cross-section resulting in a barrel portion at least twice as hard as said handle portion.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS