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Publication numberUS3206122 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 14, 1965
Filing dateJul 27, 1961
Priority dateJul 27, 1961
Publication numberUS 3206122 A, US 3206122A, US-A-3206122, US3206122 A, US3206122A
InventorsFrisbie Marshall H, Kretzmer Jr Minor G
Original AssigneeGilbert Co A C
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toy roadbed
US 3206122 A
Abstract  available in
Images(8)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

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ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,206,122 TOY ROADBED Marshall H. Frishie, Hamden, and Minor G. Kretznier, In, Middle Haddam, East Hampton Township, New Haven County, Conn., assignors to The A. C. Gilbert Company, New Haven, Conn., a corporation of Maryland Filed July 27, 1961, Ser. No. 127,302 1 Claim. (Cl. 238-) This invention relates to currently popular toy and hobby trafiic systems in which automobiles, trucks, buses, and other vehicles are simulated by miniature models of such vehicles traveling automatically on replicas of trackless streets and highways under remote control effected in much the same manner as in toy and model electric railroading wherein miniature trains pick up current from rails of the railroad along which they travel.

Roadbed structure equipped to predetermine a fixed course of travel for such miniature vehicles has been proposed wherein side by side lanes of travel are suggestive of a race track, sometimes incorporating grade crossings at which collisions of the model vehicles can be caused to occur or avoided according to the skill of contestants operating separate vehicles.

An object of the present improvements is to construct immitative roadbeds in a constructional sets of sections so that they can be assembled edge to edge in a choice of mating relationships without the use of tools, extraneous coupling parts or fasteners and further so as to form not only side by side separate lanes of travel for the miniature vehicles as in a race track, but also to form an almost unlimited variety of layouts of streets and highways whose diversified lanes of vehicular travel branch from and merge into one another.

Another object is to incorporate in such constructional sets an electrical system inclusive of lanes of electrically interconnected, but mechanically separable, roadbed conductors and cooperating miniature electrically propelled vehicles adapted to derive current from the conductors in such manner at branch intersections of the lanes that there shall be no dead spot causing failure of supply of propulsion current to any vehicle when passing a branch intersection or interchange of lanes regardless of what course of travel may be chosen for the vehicle.

Another object is to arrange roadbed sections in the form of slabs of insulating material incorporating such current supply conductors, the slabs being equipped at their meeting edges with respectively mating openings and projections that are integral with or formed in the body of insulating material of which the roadbed sections are made and that will interfit in a manner to hold adjacently joined roadbed sections firmly in flush surface alignment.

Another object is to equip the miniature vehicles with current collectors that are shiftable in position on the vehicle from side to side thereof, as well as forward and backward thereon, so as to enable the vehicle to pick up propulsion current from a choice of pairs of differently polarized roadbed conductors in whatever lane is being traveled by the vehicle. This permits of reversing the direction in which the vehicle travels in a given lane without reversing the polarity of the conductors and also affords independent control of different vehicles deriving current from conductors in the same lane.

Still another object is so to construct a roadbed section for use as aforesaid that it shall be strong and durable, light in weight and inexpensive to produce in large quantities. To this end the invention contemplates forming a roadbed section as a stiff hollow slab of insulative material having a thin top wall whose upper surface is substantially flat and whose under surface faces and roofs over the hollow of the slab, said top wall being thickened to form depending ridges occupying and traversing the hollow of the slab and containing channels that open upward through the top surface of the slab in a continuous course so as to be trackable and guide the miniature vehicles.

These and other objects of the invention will become apparent in further detail from the following description of successful embodiments of the invention having reference to the appended drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 shows diagrammatically a simple layout of circuitous electrified model roadbed characteristic of a stock car race track together with its electrical connections to a source of propulsion current and to control stations that may be remote from the roadbed and separated from one another whereby to control current supply independently to different lanes.

FIG. 2 shows a different layout of circuitous roadbed in the form of a figure-8 course of race track lanes incorporating an overpass.

FIG. 3 shows a trafiic system including a layout of electrified model roadbed wherein traific lanes branch from and merge into one another characteristically of streets and highways as travelled by autos, trucks, buses, etc. and wherein the course of vehicle travel can be diversified by shiftable routing switches located at the interchanges of main and branch lanes. A modified system of remote controlled current supply is indicated.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a curved section of the roadbed of any of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 drawn in suitable actual s1ze.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view taken in section on the plane 5-5 in FIG. 4, looking in the directions of the arrows.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are fragmentary views drawn on a scale similar to FIG. 5, taken in section on the respective planes 6-6 and 7--7 in FIG. 4, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 8 shows the parts of FIGS. 7 and 9 in assembled relation.

FIGS. 9 and 10 are fragmentary views taken in section on the respective planes 99 and 1010 in FIG. 4, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 11 shows the parts of FIGS. 6 and 10 in assembled relation.

FIG. 12 is a contracted plan or edgewise view of a current conductive strip detached from the roadbed of FIG. 5.

FIG. 13 is a side elevation of the strip of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 shows on a still further enlarged scale the conductive overlapping engagement of the meeting end :portions of separable strips like that of FIGS. 12 and 13 at the junction of joined together sections of the roadbed.

FIG. 15 is a fragmentary contracted plan View of a current conductive strip occupying a vehicle guiding groove central of each lane of the roadbed.

FIG. 16 is a view taken in section on the planes 161616 in FIG. 15 looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 17 shows on an enlarged scale the conductive overlapping engagement of separable meeting end portions of strips like that of FIGS. 15 and 16 at the junction of joined together sections of the roadbed.

FIG. 18 is a bottom plan view of a fragment of the roadbed section at the fastening tongues of the conductive strip.

FIG. 19 is a fragmentary contracted perspective view of the vehicle guiding central groove in each lane of a roadbed section.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the current conductive strip of FIG. 15 before attachment to the vehicle guiding groove of FIG. 19.

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of separated mating edges of adjacent roadbed sections.

FIG. 22 is a plan view of a T-shaped section of the roadbed incorporating branching and intersecting lanes with shiftable lane routing switches at their merging points.

FIG. 23 is a fragmentary enlarged plan view of one of the shiftable lane routing switches.

FIG. 24 is a view taken in section on the plane 24-24 in FIG. 23, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 25 is a view in part like FIG. 5 showing the .insertion of readily removable and transferable circuit 'terrninal clips providing ready means for attaching current supply wires to the conductors of the roadbeds.

FIG. 26 is a bottom plan view of the terminal clips of FIG. 25.

FIG. 27 is a birdseye view of a traffic roadbed system laid out as diagrammed in FIG. 3 with scenic effects and electrical control appurtenances installed.

FIG. 28 is a plan view of an improved miniature wheeled vehicle chassis adapted to cooperate with the roadbed constructions of FIGS. 1 to 27, one of the wheels being shown in diametral section.

FIG. 29 is a side elevational view of the vehicle of FIG. 28.

FIG. 30 is a view taken in section on the plane 30-39 in FIG. 28 looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 31 is a front end view of the vehicle looking thereat from the left in FIG. 29.

FIG. 32 is a rear end view of the vehicle looking thereat from the right in FIG. 29.

FIG. 33 is an enlarged view taken in section on the plane 33-33 in FIG. 28, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 34 is a similar view taken in section on the plane 34-34 in FIG. 28 looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 35 is a plan view of approximately half the width of a straight section of the roadbed drawn on the same scale as FIG. 4 showing a modified construction of conductors and also a boundary fence lodged in edge channels in the roadbed surface and partially broken away.

FIG. 36 is a view of one conductor detached from its channel in the roadbed section.

FIG. 37 is a bottom plan view of the roadbed section of FIG. 35.

FIG. 38 is a view taken in section on the plane 3838 in FIG. 35, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 39 is a fragmentary enlargement of the plan view of roadbed section in FIG. 35.

FIG. 40 is an enlarged view of a fragment of the cross sectional view in FIG. 38.

FIG. 41 is a fragmentary view taken in section on the plane 4141 in FIG. 40.

FIG. 42 is a bottom plan view looking upward at FIG. 40 drawn on the same scale.

FIG. 43 shows an end portion of one of the conductors appearing in FIG. 39 detached from the roadbed section and drawn on an enlarged scale.

FIG. 44 is a view taken in section on the plane 44-44 in FIG. 43.

FIG. 45 shows the engagement of ends of the conductor strips of FIG. 38 at the junction of mating edges of adjacent roadbed sections.

FIG. 46 is a fragmentary view taken on the planes 464646 in FIG. 37 drawn on a greatly enlarged scale showing access to the conductors for the electrical attachment of current supply leads as for instance in FIGS. 25 and 26.

FIG. 47 is a view taken in section on the plane 47-47 in FIG. 35 showing a section of the border fence lodged in place at the edges of the roadbed.

FIG. 48 is a view taken in section on the plane 48-48 in FIG. 47 shown on a larger scale.

FIG. 49 is a view taken in section on the plane 49-49 in FIG. 47 on the scale of FIG. 48.

FIG. 50 shows a modified construction of the end of the center groove conductor of FIGS. 39, 43 and 44 drawn on the scale of FIG. 48.

FIG. 51 shows a modified mating construction of the other end of the same center groove conductor.

FIG. 52 shows the conductor ends of FIGS. 50 and 51 electrically joined at the junction of the mating edges of two roadbed sections.

FIG. 53 shows a modified construction of the current collector of FIGS. 30 and 33 at the leading end of the vehicle.

FIG. 54 shows a modified construction of the groove following pilot at the trailing end of the vehicle in FIG. 30.

FIG. 55 is a fragmentary view taken in section on the plane 5555 in FIG. 54, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 56 is a bottom plan view of the T-shaped junction section of the roadbed shown in FIG. 22 incorporating the modified construction of flanking conductors illustrated in FIGS. 35 to 42.

FIG. 57 is a diagram of electric circuit connections of the roadbed conductors of FIG. 22 in top plan view and as may be incorporated in the overall circuitry of the system diagrammed in FIG. 3.

In FIG. 1 the sectional roadbed 12 incorporates two parallel circuitous lanes 13 and 14 each including a central vehicle guiding groove 15. This groove in each lane is flanked by an outer conductor 17 and an inner conductor 18 running alongside and spaced laterally from groove 15. Current is supplied to each of the conductors 17 and 18 in an electrical system as diagrammed. The electrical system includes a so-called power pack 24 containing the primary winding 25 of a step-down transformer supplied with alternating current at household voltage through a conventional attachment cord 26. The secondary winding 27 of the transform-er has induced in it alternating current at a reduced potential of, say, 7 /2 volts. Such reduced voltage is delivered to binding posts 28 and 29 of the power pack 24 as unidirectional current because of the rectifier 30 incorporated in the internal circuit of the power pack 24 as shown.

As shown in the diagram of FIG. 1, binding post 28 is connected only to the outside conductor 17 of each of lanes 13 and 14 by a lead 34. Binding post 29 is connected through a lead 33 to the take-off wiper 35 of a variable rheostat 36 and also to the take-off wiper 37 of another variable rheostat 38.

Rheostat 36 delivers its unidirectional current at selective voltage to the inner conductor 18 of only the outer lane 13 through a lead 39. Rheostat 38 supplies with the same kind of current and at independently variable voltage the inner conductor 18 of only inner lane 14 through a lead 40. A miniature electrically propelled vehicle capable of following and picking up propulsion current from either of lanes 13 or 14 is diagrammatically represented at 41 in FIG. 1 and is later herein more particularly referred to.

In FIG. 2 straight and curved sections of roadbed similar to those of FIG. 1 are increased in number and joined to constitute a figure-8 form of sectional roadbed 42 having lanes 13 and 14' similar to lanes 13 and 14 respectively of FIG. 1 except that the vehicle guiding center groove of each lane in FIG. 2 differs from grooves 15 in FIG. 1 by containing at the bottom thereof a continuous electrical conductor 43. Hence in FIG. 2 such central, groove contained conductors are indicated by heavy black lines. In well-known manner one course of the figure-8 roadbed of FIG. 2 will be elevated above the other at the cross-over point in the figure-8 formation. The groove contained conductor 43 is hereinafter referred to in further particular.

In FIG. 3 a still different layout of sectional roadbed 46 incorporates branch lanes 47 and 48 merging interchangeably with main lanes 13 and 14, each of which branch and main lanes as in FIG. 2 comprises a central groove at the bottom of which there is exposed for cur rent collection a conductor 50 mainly like conductor 43. Also as in FIG. 2 groove 15' (see FIGS. 4 and 5) in each of lanes 47 and 48 is parallelled at one side by a flanking conductor 51 and at the other side by a flanking conductor 52. Current is supplied to each of the conductors 50, 51 and 52 in a modified electrical system diagrammed in FIG. 3. This system may include the same kind of power pack 24 as in FIG. 1 containing the transformer primary 25, secondary 27 and rectifier 30 and giving an output of unidirectional current at, say, 7 /2 volts at its binding posts 28 and 29.

In FIG. 3 the polarity of the output of unidirectional current from power pack 24 can be reversed by means of a double-throw switch 53 from which current is ledto or away from the center conductor 50 of each of the lanes 47 and 48 by a lead 54. The reversing switch 53 is also connected through a lead 55 to the take-off wiper 35 of variable rheostat 36 and also to the take-off wiper 37 of the other variable rheostat 38. Rheostat 36 delivers its selectively polarized current received through reversing switch 53 to the conductor 51 of each of the lanes 13, 14, 47 and 48 through a lead 56. Rheostat 38 delivers its selectively polarized current to the other conductor 52 of each of the said lanes through a lead 57.

At 62 and 63 in FIG. 3 there are represented miniature electrically propelled vehicles that are equipped with changeable position current collectors to pick up propul sion current from any of the groove contained conductors 43 of FIG. 2 or from any of the groove contained conductors 50 in FIG. 3 and also from the flanking conductors 17 or 18 of FIG. 2 as well as from the flanking conductors 51 or 52 in FIG. 3. Details of a typical such vehicle 41 are illustrated in FIGS. 28-34 and described hereinafter.

Sections from which the roadbeds of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 can be constructed are of at least three kinds, namely straight and curved sections as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, and T-sections 86 such as shown in FIG. 3. In the latter type of section provision is made for branch and main lane interchanges. The straight and curved sections are constructed as typified in FIGS. 4 to 21, 25 and 26. The T-sections 86 are constructed and electrically connected as shown in FIGS. 22, 23, 24, 56 and 57.

Referring first to the construction of the straight sections 61 and curved sections 64 of the road bed, FIG. 4 shows in preferred actual size a curved section 64 comprising a downward opening slab-like hollow molded integral body of insulative plastic material such as high impact polystyrene incorporating a top wall 65 bordered by side walls 70 on which the roadbed rests. From the top wall 65 there depends two individually continuous ribs 66 and 67 respectively underlying each of the aforesaid trafiic lanes 13 and 14 or 13' and 14' or 47 and 48. Each of ribs 66 and 67 contains a narrow, upward opening, parallelling continuous groove 68 in which is fixedly but removably lodged an edgewise upstanding resilient metallic strip projecting slightly above the top surface of section wall 65 and comprising the conductor 17 or 18. Such strip is shown detached in FIGS. 12 and i3. Spaced bumps 69 projecting sidewise from each of strips 17 and 18 give the strip a retentive frictional fit in groove 68 when pressed thereinto. One end of each of these strips is straight and projects somewhat from the edge of the roadbed section. The other end portion of each strip has a resilient offset formation 17' best shown in FIG. 14 that is capable of flexing laterally in a socket-like enlargement 68 of the groove 68 opening outward at the edge of the roadbed section. When any roadbed section is placed in edge-to-edge contact with a mating roadbed section the straight end of strip 17 for example becomes resiliently squeezed between the resilient end portion 17' of the mating strip 17 and the side wall of socket 68' thus insuring good electrically conductive contact between the strips. The thus overlapping end portions of the strips can be separated by merely pulling apart the adjacent roadbed sections. The conductive contact just described also characterizes meeting ends of the inner conductor 18 lodged in depending rib 67 of the molded body of the roadbed section.

Centrally parallel with ribs 66 and 67 there extends a relatively Wider and otherwise similar depending rib 72 in which is formed the wide vehicle guiding groove 15, or 15' as hereinbefore referred to. The floor surface of this groove is overlaid by a horizontally fiat metallic resilient strip comprising the conductor 43 or 50, hereinbefore referred to, which is shown detached from its groove in FIGS. 19 and 20. Strip 43 or 50 is provided at its side edges with downwardly bent tongues 73 which pass through slots 75 in the bottom of rib 72 and are clinched over to fasten the strip in the groove as shown in FIG. 5. One resilient end portion 75 of strip 43 or 5! is offset downward sufiiciently in a terminal depression in the groove 15' to admit into flush surface relation thereto the straight mating end portion of the corresponding strip 43 of an adjacent roadbed section. Said mating end portion projects beyond the edge of the roadbed section as do the straight end portions of conductors 17 and 18. A bump 76 on the straight end portion of strip 43 or 50 seats releasably in a hole 77 in the offset end portion of the corresponding strip and will assist in resisting edgewise separation of the roadbed sections as shown in FIG. 17.

All of the roadbed sections are mutually oriented and maintained in flush facial alignment by lugs that project from the edges of the sections and are shaped to fit and be snugly received in apertures formed in the top and side walls of the adjoining section. FIGS. 5-11 and 21 show clearly the shape and relative disposition of such lugs 80, 81 and cavities 82, 83. There are both lugs and cavities at each edge roadbed section as is shown in FIGS. 4 and 22 and their manner of mating is apparent from FIG. 21. The lugs are shown as hollow protuberances. Both kinds of lugs are rounded on their extremities farthest from the section edge to facilitate insertion in the apertures. Lug 80 is also rounded on its bottom surface and lug 81 rounded on its top surface. The shapes of cavities 82 and 83 conform to and fit the shapes of the lugs respectively.

Referring to FIGS. 3, 22, 56 and 57 the comparable portions of the T-shaped junction sections 86 of the roadbed are constructed like the straight and curved sections 61 and 64 but with additional features that provide means for directing a vehicle into a choice of courses of travel at points of mergence of branch lanes, junction lanes, and main lanes of travel. For convenience of reference in FIG. 3 the main or round-about lanes of vehicular travel are designated 13 and 14 as in FIG. 1 and the aforesaid additional branch lanes are designated 47 and 48. These branch lanes merely for purposes of illustration are shown to bridge across from one side to the other of the round-about course of the main line lanes 13 and 14 being arranged to merge therewith through intermediary curved junction lanes 84, 85, 87, and 88. Such branch lanes can have a great variety of dispositions in different layouts of roadbed. In each of the junction sections 86, junction lane 87 connects branch lane 47 to the inner lane 14 of the main course and junction lane 88 connects the same branch lane 47 to outer lane 13 of the main course. Also, junction lane 84 connects branch lane 48 to the outer lane 13 of the main course and junction lane connects the same branch lane 48 to the inner lane 14 of the main course.

In the lanes just referred to, the center conductors 50 all have a common electrical polarity whether positive or negative and may be formed as an integral laticework cut from conductive sheet metal to fit into the system of intersecting grooves 15' that extend centrally of the lanes. Such grooves openly communicate with one another where they meet or mutually intersect.

sure against the roadbed conductor.

The flanking conductors 51 and 52 are at some points mechanically discontinuous in the insulative slab 86 as shown in FIGS. 22 and 57 where it is also shown that the mechanically discontinuous extents of conductors 51 are electrically unified by bus bar connectors 58 while the mechanically discontinuous extents of conductors 52 are electrically unified by bus bar connections 59. Thus, there are two electrically separate groups of the frag- .mented conductors 51 and 52 respectively wherein the current as a group they can be separately controlled as a group as to voltage impressed thereon through the variable rheostat 36, while all conductors 52 as a group are separately supplied with current and can be separately controlled as to voltage impressed thereon by only the variable rheostat 38.

In order to effect the foregoing electrical groupings of 'roadbed conductors whose paths must cross in delta style there needs to be certain gaps in the exposure of the conductors were contacted by the current collector of a vehicle at the upper surface of the roadbed. As will later appear however such gaps do not cause any interruption in the supply of current to a vehicle traveling past the merging points or intersecting points of the various lanes of travel in FIGS. 3 and 22. To insure such avoidance of interruption a current collector of one polarity at the forward end of the vehicle is spaced from a current collector of the same polarity at the rear end of the same vehicle sufficiently to bridge the gaps. Hence one or the other of such collectors will always be in wiping contact with the same conductor 51 or 52 despite gaps therein which are bridged by the length of a passing vehicle. Details of a miniature vehicle equipped to so perform are shown in FIGS. 28 to 34, inclusive, and are later herein more fully described.

Referring to FIGS. 23 and 24 the construction of branch lane switches is seen to comprise a switch tongue 90 fixed to a rotatable stub shaft 91 that is journaled in the top wall 65 of the roadbed section so as to swing between positions for opening groove 15' to the main lane of vehicle travel or for opening groove 15' to the branch lane of vehicle travel. For thus shifting the switch tongue a switch throwing arm 89 is fixed to the same stub shaft 91 beneath the section wall 65 and carries a manually actuatable thumb piece 92 that extends upward through an elongate arcuate slot 93 in section wall 65 and projects thereabove sufficiently to be contacted and pushed along its limited arc of swinging by the light touch of an operators finger tip. A spring thrust washer 94 afiords a sufficiently light force of friction to maintain the switch tongue in whichever position it may occupy yet with sufiicient yielding ability to permit the switch tongue to become shifted automatically by the passing of a vehicle carried steering pilot 97 following the roadbed groove 15 of one lane to the groove of another lane with respect to which the first groove merges or leads off.

In FIGS. 25 and 26 there is shown a convenient arrangement of removable and replaceable terminal clips for making circuit connection between any lead wire at selective or predetermined points along the extent of any one of the electrical conductors 50, 51 or 52 of the roadbed. A universal form of clip 98 or 99 may be so employed and it may be retentively lodged for ready removal in pocket-like recesses 100 beside and bordered by the roadbed conductors. The doubled-over, anchored end of the somewhat springy clip of conductive metaltends to spread in the recess and thus exerts friction-causing pres- A clip such as 98 or 99 may be braced by further attaching it to a spacer stud as 101 depending from wall 65 of the'roadbed section.

An improved construction of miniature vehicle especially adapted to running along the lanes of the roadbeds of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 is shown in detail in FIGS. 28 to 34, inclusive.

A vehicle chassis is shown at 105 and coin-prises an integral, mainly flat, skelton body of hard, molded, somewhat resilient plastic material such as high impact polystyrene with means for journaling quick attachable and detachable wheel axles 107 on the rear of the chassis. The quick attachable and detachable feature resides in a downward opening, tapered notch 108 contained in a rotary bearing lug 109 upstanding from each of the side rails of chassis 105, the dead end of which notch is shaped to encompass enough more than a half-round portion of the cylindrical surface of the axle 108 to form a retentive journaling fit therewith and to require a slight spreading of the notch to permit insertion upward and withdrawal downward of the axle 107 with respect thereto. Spreading of the notch is permitted by the springy resistance of the somewhat resilient plastic material of the lug 109.

The front end portion of chassis 105 rests on a truck 112 whose frame is pivotally connected by an eyelet 113 to swivel relatively to the chassis for steering the front road wheels 114. Truck 112 is supported from the roadbed by said wheels 114 which are fixed on a common axle 115 that is journaled in notched lugs 116 containing the tapered notches 11 7 which are shaped at their dead ends to encompass enough more than a half-round extent of the cylindrical surface of the axle 115 so as to form a retentive journaling fit therewith. A slight spreading of the notch at its most constricted point permits insertion and withdrawal of the axle 115 against the spring resistance of the somewhat resilient plastic material of lugs 116.

The truck 112 carries depending front and rear vehicle piloting feet 118, 119 which have a somewhat loose sliding fit in .the roadbed groove 68 hereinbefore described. The hollow center of the pivotal eyelet 113 admits therethrough in completely spaced relation thereto a springmounted, current collecting rod 120 normally supported and urged downward into constant sliding contact with the center conductor 43 of FIG. 2 or the conductor 50 of FIG. 3 by a conductive leaf spring 121 whose opposite mounted end is removably lodged in a slot 122 extending through the chassis frame as best shown in FIGS. 30 and 33.

In a manner similar to the removable mounting of leaf spring 121 on the chassis, one to four additional conductive leaf springs 125 to 128, inclusive, can likewise be removably lodged interchangeably in any of four slots similar to slot 122 at the four corners respectively of chassis 105, so as to bear wipingly on either or both of the roadbed conductors 17, 18 or 51, 52.

At the rear end of chassis 105 there is a rearwardly offset vertical slide hearing for second current collecting rod 131 and which may be formed as an integral extension of the insulative material of which the chassis consists. Collector rod 131 is normally pressed downward into constant wiping engagement with the center conductor 50 by a conductive leaf spring 132 fixedly anchored in a slot in the chassis at 133 in removable fashion similarly to the other spring 121.

The axle 107 of the rear traction wheels 136 has fixed thereto centrally of the width of the vehicle a driven worm wheel 137 in mesh with a driving worm 138 on the power shaft 139 of the direct current electric motor 140 whose body is supported on seating prongs 141 upstanding from the skeleton framework of the chassis. The end of the motor power shaft 139 is journaled in a bearing block 142 which is received and supported in an upwardly open notch 143 in an upstanding mounting post 144 formed by an extension of the material of which the chassis consists. Bearing block 142 has a depending tongue 145 loosely received in a pocket 146 in post 144 to prevent turning of the bearing block while leaving it free to align itself axially with the shaft 139. A cylindrical portion 147 of the bearing block is slightly larger than the minimum width of notch 143 and this notch like notches 108 and 117 is enabled to spread slightly against the resilient resistance of its sides for permitting bearing block 142 to be inserted retentively in and yet withdrawable from the notch.

In operating the toy traffic system with a layout such as exemplified in FIGS. 1, 2 or 3, the roadbed sections will first be assembled edge-to-edge to form the desired pattern of lanes and held in proper alignment by the lugs 80, 81 engaging recesses or cutouts 82, 83. The various conductors in each of the traffic lanes will then become electrically continuous because of the overlapping contact of their end portions.

One or several vehicles such as shown in FIGS. 28-34 can be equipped with current collectors 125, 126, 127 or 128 in any or all of the four corners of the quadrilateral chassis and supported 50 as to wipe the desired conductors 17, 18, 51 or 52. For instance, in the simple racetrack layout of FIG. 1, two or all four of the aforesaid current collectors may be used on the same vehicle so as to pick up propulsion current from conductors 17 and 18 simultaneously. See the vehicle represented at 41 in FIG. 1. In this arrangement, conductors 125, 126 form one side of the supply circuit from the roadbed to motor 140 while conductors 127, 128 complete the circuit from the roadbed to the other side of the motor. Thus in FIG. 1 the grooves 15 need contain no conductor for energizing the vehicle motor through the collector rods 120, 131.

In FIGS. 2 and 3, on the other hand, conductors 50 are contained in the grooves 15 of FIGS. 4 and 5 (not shown in FIGS. 2 and 3) from which the current is always picked up by the collector rods 120 and 131 so that only one pair of the current collectors 125, 126 or 127, or 128 need be installed at the same side of the vehicle to enable it to be propelled by current derived from either the conductor 17 alone or the conductor 18 alone in FIG. 2 but not from both of these conductors simultaneously.

The same is true if a vehicle is to be used with the layout of conductors shown in FIG. 3 where current to any single vehicle is derived either from conductor 51 alone or 52 alone but not from both of these two conductors simultaneously. at 62 and 63 in FIG. 3.

In passing the gaps in the exposed bare surfaces of conductors 51 and 52 in FIG. 21 there will be no interruption in supply of propulsion current to the vehicle because the space between current collectors 125, 126 and between current collectors 127, 128 is greater than the linear extent of such gap. Hence by equipping each vehicle with only those of the current collectors necessary to pick up current from either conductor 51 or 52 as desired, a vehicle energized from conductor 51 will be solely under control of variable rheostat 36 as to starting, stopping and speed of running, while a vehicle energized from conductor 52 will be solely under control of variable rheostat 38 as to starting, stopping and speed of running. Also the direction of travel of all vehicles can be reversed by the polarity reversing electric switch 52. If desired a separate polarity reversing switch such as 52 can be placed in series with each of rheostats 36 and 38 so that the direction of travel can be reversed in each of two vehicles independently of the other and by remote control.

From the foregoing it will be seen that with the branch lane switching tongues 90 preset and subject to selective change in setting individually at any time at will, the patterns of traffic flow that may be produced under remote control are fully universal and changeable to an unlimited extent by selective use of a set of partially duplicative parts that are low in cost and easy for a child to assemble and operate.

FIG. 27 typifies a simple version of the roadbed layout that is diagrammed in FIG. 3 embellished with a roadside See the vehicles represented' grain loading station 152, gasoline filling pump 153, drum loading station 154, scenic effects, etc.

In FIGS. 35 to 46 and 50 to 52, inclusive, there are shown modified constructions of conductors and means for lodging them fixedly in the roadbed. Here the conducto-r that is lodged in the center groove 161 is a flat metallic strip of some resilience blanked and formed to provide downward slanted lateral spurs 162 at spaced intervals along the edges of the strip as best shown in FIG. 44. The overall lateral width of conductor 160 inclusive of these spurs just about fills the width of its groove 61 when the strip is lowered into the groove with the spurs inclined downward as shown in broken lines in FIG. 46. Upon reaching the bottom of the groove a firm downward all-over pressure exerted on the strip 160 forces the spur-s 162 to straighten and spread into planar coincidence with the fiat width of the strip whereby the spurs wedge into firm holding engagement with the side Walls of the groove with the bottom surface of the strip now in all-over face to face contact with the sunken surface of the bottom of the groove as shown in full lines in FIG. 46.

The ends of strip 160 differ from the ends of the corresponding conductor 43 in FIGS. 15, 16, and 17 by being bent downward as shown in FIGS. 50 and 51 so that when the mating edges of the roadbed sections are brought together a sliding spring pressure is set up between the inturned strip end 163 and the out-turned or projecting strip end 164, both of said strip ends being permitted to flex resiliently in the cavity 165 in the edge of the roadbed section. This insures and maintains good electrical contact as long as the section edges remain in abutment.

FIGS. 35-46 also show a modified construction of the upstanding conductor strips as shown in FIG. 36 which diifers from that of the corresponding strips 17 and 18 of FIGS. 12 and 13 by being entirely flat faced without the bumps 69. Conductors 170 are relieved of having to nicely fit in their respective grooves 171 by making such grooves somewhat wider than the thickness of the strip and equipped with spot bosses 172 suitably spaced along the groove and projecting toward each other from opposite sides of the groove to an extent leaving sufiicient room therebetween to provide a snug fit for a strip 170 when the latter is inserted between the bosses deeply enough to bottom on the sunken surface of the groove.

FIGS. 37, 38, 40, 41, 42 and 56 show the ribs 66 and 67 which correspond to ribs 66 and 67 of FIG. 5 cut away at intervals to form a gap 173 that intersects the groove 171 so that a short lower marginal extent of strip 170 is exposed in such gap at 174. This enables the thus exposed bottom margin of strip 170 to be subjected to an offsetting, twisting or swaging operation as shown in FIGS. 41 and 42 by the application of a suitable tool. Such offsetting prevents withdrawal of the conductor strip upward out of groove 171.

FIG. 46 shows cutaways 166, 167 and 168 in the ribs 66, 67' and 72' respectively to give access to the conductors 17' and 160 for the attachment of current supply leads whether this be done by direct soldering connection or through the medium of terminal clips as in FIGS. 25 and 26. FIG. 45 shows the detachable conductive engagement of opposite ends of strips 17 at the junction of the meeting edges of adjacent roadbed sections in the general manner shown in FIG. 14.

The roadbed sections of FIGS. 35, 37, 47, 48 and 49 are provided with formations at their edges for supporting detachable sections of a border fence 176 which may comprise a flat flexible sheet of plastic material apertured to resemble in silhouette the spans 177 and posts of a guard rail. The bottom edge of the bottom span 177 of the fence nests removably in a narrow groove 178 sunk from the top surface of the roadbed section which groove is interrupted at spaced points by slots 179 extend- 11 ing downward from the groove entirely through the roadbed. Bosses 180 occupying such slots provide a press fit for the post legs 181 of the fence when inserted and thus lodged firmly in the slots 179.

In FIG. 53 a modified form of current collector at the front end of the vehicle is shown at 186 consisting of a mere pigtail of finely stranded wire extending resiliently downward through the hollow of the pivotal eyelet 113 into wiping engagement with the roadbed conductor 160. The upper end of pigtail collector 186 is wedged in or soldered to the free end of a leaf spring conductor 187 whose anchored end is secured to the vehicle chassis 105 by an electrical binding post screw 188 which threads into an insulative boss 189 on the insulative chassis and retains under its head a lead wire 190 connecting with the propulsion motor 140.

In FIGS. 54 and 55 the current collecting trolley post 131 at the rear end of the vehicle is replaced by a nonconductive, vehicle piloting foot 192 that tracks freely in the center groove 15, 15 or 16 of the roadbed and is removably lodged in the chassis 105 by means of two mounting tangs 193 received with a press fit in downward opening sockets 194 in the chassis. This serves to guide the rear end of the vehicle when traveling backward and helps prevent said rear end from swerving sidewise when the vehicle is traveling in forward direction around curves thus performing the mechanical guiding functions of current collector 131 in FIG. 30 relieved of any frictional drag thereof occasioned by wiping along the conductor 50 or 160.

In all of the constructions herein illustrated as successful embodiments of the invention any of the roadbed section 61, 64, or 86, as well as section 61, is characterized by comprising a relatively stiff hollow slab of insulative material having a top wall thinner than the whole slab and whose top surface is substantially fiat and whose bottom surface faces and roofs over the hollow of the slab. The insulative material of the slab further is shaped to provide ribs such as 66, 67 and 72 traversing the hollow of the slab and depending from the bottom surface of the top Wall of the slab, said ribs containing grooves or channels opening upward through said top surface in a continuous course to be exposed to and tracked by the current collectors of miniature vehicles.

In view of the many patterns of trafiic lanes that can be built from the simple three roadbed components of this toy and the wide range of choice of said lanes in which dilferent vehicles having a common chassis con struction can be caused to travel in different directions by remote control, the appended claims are directed to and intend to cover all variations from the illustrative examples herein that come within a broad and fair interpretation of the terms employed in the claim to define the invention.

What is claimed is:

In a toy traflic system the combination of, roadbed sections comprising mating slabs of insulative material adapted to abut edge-to-edge with their upper and lower surfaces in flush alignment, :1 first lug of said insulating material being flush with the upper surface and spaced above the lower surface of one of said slabs, and a second lug of said insulating material being flush with the lower surface and spaced below the upper surface of said one of said slabs, said lugs projecting from the edge of one of said slabs toward the abutting edge of a mating slab, and said edge of said mating slab having openings in the insulative material thereof positioned and dimensioned to receive and fit said lugs respectively when the edges of mating slabs mutually abut.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,113,312 10/14 Cowen 23810 1,606,691 11/26 Boyer 238--10 2,008,390 7/35 Harris 23810 2,232,511 2/41 Caruso 238-10 2,687,304 8/ 54 Northrup et a1. 2,703,534 3/55 Copeland 19145 2,830,136 4/58 Herrmann et al. 191--23 2,866,418 12/58 Petrick 238-10 2,962,563 11/60 Davis 23810 3,016,024 1/ 62 Silver 104-244.1 X 3,048,124 8/62 Lovell 104149 FOREIGN PATENTS 469,656 7/37 Great Britain.

708,187 4/54 Great Britain.

939,234 10/63 Great Britain.

297,449 6/54 Switzerland. 1,246,030 10/60 France.

ARTHUR L. LA POINT, Primary Examiner;

JAMES S. SHANK, LEO QUACKENBUSH, EUGENE G. BOTZ, Examiners.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification238/10.00F, 191/22.00C, 104/247, 104/298, 191/59.1, 191/58, 246/415.00A, 238/12, 104/60
International ClassificationA63H18/02, A63H18/12, A63H18/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H18/12, A63H18/023, A63H18/02
European ClassificationA63H18/12, A63H18/02, A63H18/02C