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Publication numberUS3246719 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 19, 1966
Filing dateAug 15, 1962
Priority dateAug 15, 1962
Publication numberUS 3246719 A, US 3246719A, US-A-3246719, US3246719 A, US3246719A
InventorsLahr Robert G
Original AssigneeLahr Robert G
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Means for steering a toy vehicle
US 3246719 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

April 19, 1966 R. G. LAHR 3,246,719

MEANS FOR STEERING A TOY VEHICLE Filed Aug. 15, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR.

ROBERT G. LAHR ATTORNEY April 19, 1966 R. G. LAHR 3,246,719

MEANS FOR STEERING A TOY VEHICLE Filgd Aug. 15, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 2.

INVENTOR. ROBERT G. LAHR ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,246,719 MEANS FOR A TOY VEHICLE Robert G. Lahr, Box 385, Rte. 1, Harland, Wis. Filed Aug. 15, 1962, Ser. No. 217,142 2 Claims. (Cl. 180-791) This invention relates to electrically powered toy vehicles, and more particularly relates to toy vehicles which comprise proportional steering mechanisms. In the invention described, a remotely controlled toy vehicle is provided with means which enables it to be steered in the manner of a conventional vehicle with the front wheels or" the vehicle being steered in proportion to rotation of a steering wheel held by an operator. Heretofore, steering of toy vehicles has been accomplished by throwing a switch, lever, wheel or the like to an off-center position until the front wheels of the vehicle have been turned the desired amount and then returning the switch or the like to a neutral position to maintain the front wheels in the desired turn position. When the front wheels "are to be returned to straight ahead position, the lever or the like must again be thrown, but in the opposite direction and held until the desired position of the wheels is obtained, whereupon the switch is again returned to a neutral position. In contrast, a vehicle which is proportionally steered is turned by rotating the steering wheel to a desired position to cause the front wheels of the vehicle to be turned in the desired direction and the steering wheel is held in that position until the front wheels are to be returned from turn position whereupon, the steering wheel is returned to initial position. Therefore, in proportional steering the displacement of a steering wheel is proportional to the displacement of the steerable vehicle wheels, and only with this manner of steering can the sensation of steering an automotive vehicle be simulated in a toy vehicle.

It is an object of this invention to provide in a remotely controlled toy vehicle a proportional steering means which simulates the steering effect provided in conventional automobiles.

It is another object of this invention to provide a motor shaft comprising centrifugal force responsive toggle joint means for changing the length of the shaft as a function of motor speed.

It is another object of this invention to provide in a toy vehicle steering control means which comprises a plurality of electric motors connected to mechanical steering means in the vehicle wherein the length of the shaft on each electric motor is lengthened and shortened for steering the vehicle in proportion to the speed of the motor.

It is another object to provide in a toy vehicle steering control means which comprises at least one motor connected to mechanical steering means in the vehicle wherein the effective length of a shaft driven by the motor is caused to be proportional to the rotational speed of the motor and movement of a steered member is proportional to changes in the effective length of the shaft.

Other objects will become apparent from the drawings and from the following detailed description in which it is intended to illustrate the applicability of the invention without thereby limiting its scope to less than that of all equivalents which will be apparent to one skilled in the art. In the drawings like reference numerals refer to like parts and:

FIGURE 1 is a plan view of one embodiment of a vehicle of this invention comprising electrical control means shown in schematic illustration;

FIGURE 2 is a plan view of another embodiment of this invention comprising electrical control means being shown in schematic illustration;

FIGURE 3 is a plan view of a vehicle of this invenice tion and a retaining wall wherein broken line representation indicates changed position of the vehicle;

FIGURE 4 is a plan view in front elevation section of a steering control mechanism of a vehicle of this invention;

FIGURE 5 is a side elevation of the steering control means of FIGURE 4 showing changed position of the control means in broken line representation;

FIGURE 6 is a plan view of another embodiment of a device of this invention;

FIGURE 7 is a plan view of a toy boat propulsion means embodying the steering means of this invention.

In FIGURE 1 is shown vehicle 10 comprising chassis 11, driving wheels 12 and steerable wheels 13. Driving wheels 12, are mounted on axle 14. One of wheels 12 may be affixed to axle 14, the other being free to rotate thereon, or both may be aflixed to the axle since differential rotation during a turn, though preferred, is not necessary. Axle 14 may be driven by electric motor 15 or other motor by means of a gear linkage comprising worm 16, attached to the motor shaft, acting gear 16 affixed to axle 14.

Steerable front wheels of vehicle it) may be mounted to rotate on substantially vertical pivot pins 17 which may extend from chassis 11. Tie rod 18 may be pivotally connected at pivots 19 to steering arms 20. Arms 20 rotate about pivots 17 together with wheels 13.

Member 22 may be mounted to rotate about a vertical axis with reference to chassis 11; thus it may be rotatably mounted on pivot pin 23 extending substantially vertically from chassis 11. Member 22 may be have a forwardly extending portion which may be suitably linked to steering arms 20; thus the foremost part of the forwardly extending portion may be a 'bifurcate member which engages pin 21 which may extend substantially vertically from tie rod 18, so that movement of member 22 operably causes tie rod 18 to be biased, thereby causing wheels 13 to be operably steered. Member 22 may have two laterally extending portions, each of which may be provided with a hole through which may extend stub shafts 34 and 35 respectively, stub shafts 34 and 35 being respectively slidingly mounted in supporting members 36 and 37 to reciprocate therein. Stub shaft 34 may have afiixed thereto collars 32 and 38 abutting opposite sides of one laterally extending portion of member 22 and stub shaft 35 may likewise have afiixed thereto collars 33 and 31 abutting opposite sides of the other laterally extending portion of member 22.

Motor 26 drives a shaft to which is firmly attached collar 31'; motor drives a shaft to which is likewise attached collar 38'. Shaft 34 and collar 38 may have the same axis; shaft and collar 31' may have the same axis as shown.

Associated with motors 25 and 26 there are provided centrifugally responsive means indicated generally as 29 and 30 respectively, which means in effect cause lengths of shafts driven by the motors to be varied in accordance with change in rotational speeds of the motors.

Centrifugal means 29 and 30 are preferably identical and may comprise, as shown relative to means 2?, weights 4t) and 40' and links 41, 41', 42 and 42, as shown. Links 41 and 41', may be pivotally connected to each other and to collar 38' at collar 38. Links 42 and 42' may be pivotally connected to each other and to collar 38 at collar 38. Links 41 and 42 may be pivotally connected to each other and weight 40 may be attached to the pivot pin or to either link near the pivot point. Links 41' and 42 and weight 40' may be connected in like manner.

When collar 38' is rotated by operation of motor 25, the links and weights attached thereto are rotated and shaft 34 is rotated and weights 40 and 40' are urged outwardly by the centrifugal force produced thereon by such rotation. Increase in speed of such rotation causes the effective length of the shaft driven by motor 25 to be shortened by reason of shaft 34 being slidingly pulled toward motor 25 by action of the links connected to the weights. Collar 32 bears against the adjoining portion of member 22 to rotate member 22 about pivot 23 to thereby cause the bifurcate portion of member 22 to act on tie rod 18 to cause steering movement of wheels 13. Correspondingly, centrifugal means 30 driven by motor 26 is caused to act in response to increase in centrifugal force caused by increase in rotational speed of motor 26 so as to effectively shorten the distance from motor 26 to snubber 33 thereby causing the bifurcate portion of member 22 to act on tie rod 18 to turn wheels 13 to the left, with reference to FIGURE 1.

Drive motors 15, 25 and 26 are connected to remote control means as shown. Drive motor 15 is connected to reversing switch 51 by leads 50 and 52. Reversing switch 51 is operably connected to battery 53 as shown.

a Vehicle may be driven in a forward direction or in a reverse direction by manually reversing switch 51. Motors 15, 25 and 26 are D.C. motors as shown in FIGURE 1, but may be alternating current motors comprising either field and stator windings or permanent magnets for the field, if desired. Direct current motors are preferred, however. Motors 25 and 26 are connected by common lead 50 to battery 53 and by leads 54 and 55, respectively, to resistance means 56. Conductor 58 is fixedly attached to wheel 57 and is in sliding contact with resistances 59 and 60, which resistances are respectively in the circuits comprising leads 54 and 55. As wheel 57 is turned, conductor 58 traverses resistance 60 until it is horizontally disposed with reference to FIG- URE 1, whereat it directly connects leads 54 and 55 to lead 52 without resistance being inserted in the circuits. As wheel 57 is progressively turned further resistance 59 is introduced into the circuit comprising lead 54. Thereby, external resistances 58 and 59 are introduced into the circuits of motors 25 and 26 respectively, in alternate manner. The voltage derived from. battery 53 is decreased as external resistance is increased, thereby retarding the speed of the motor with the introduced resistance and causing unequal motor speeds to obtain between motors 25 and 26. When steerable wheels 13 are in straight ahead position neither motor will have resistance inserted into its circuit and the two motor speeds will be equal.

In operation, as motor speed of one of the motors is increased by removing external resistance from the motor circuit, centrifugally responsive members 29 and 30 are caused to swing outwardly in a circle of increasing diameter, thereby acting on bifurcate member 22. Conversely, when external resistance is introduced into the circuit of one of motors 25 or 26, the centrifugally responsive means 29 or 30 associated therewith swings in an ever decreasing diameter circle thereby acting on member 22 in the opposite manner with the result that there is cooperation between motors 25 and 26 in biasing member 22.

In FIGURE 2 is shown another embodiment of the invention similar to that shown in FIGURE 1, but comprising two motors instead of three as in the embodiment of FIGURE 1. Motors 25' and 26' comprise drive shafts extending from either end of the motors with pinions 60 and 61 being affixed to the drive shafts of the motors so as to operably drive crown gears 62 and 63 which in turn drive oppositely disposed bevel gear members of differential 64. Spur gear 65 affixed to the case of differential 64 is engaged with spur gear 66 on the case of differential 67 thereby enabling differentials 64 and 67 to be driven by motors 25 and 26'. Dilferential 67 is connected in conventional manner by axle shafts to drive wheels 12'.

The steering mechanism shown for vehicle 10' of FIG- URE 2 is identical to that shown for vehicle 10 of FIGURE 1.

Electrical lead 50 is similar to lead 50 of FIGURE 1, and electrical leads 54' and are substantially identical to the corresponding leads of FIGURE 1. Reversing switch 51' is similar to that of FIGURE 1 but is connected to a 115 volt A.C. step-down transformer comprising a rectifier to provide preferably 12 volt potential to motors 25' and 26'. Any other voltage as desired may be provided, or if desired, alternating current may be provided for motors 25 and 26.

Steering wheel 57 is connected to conductor bar 58' and is turned therewith in operable manner. Bar 58' makes sliding contact with resistor 68 so that at dead center position, i.e., vertical position as shown in FIG- URE 2, motors 25' and 26 each have the same amount of external resistance introduced into their circuits and are provided with the same voltage thereby causing steerable wheels 13 to be guided straight ahead. When steering wheel 57 is turned to dispose conductor bar 58 in the position shown in FIGURE 2, a greater amount of external resistance is introduced into the circuitof motor 25 than into that of motor 26 and steerable vehicle wheels 13' are caused to turn to the left as shown in FIGURE 2. Thus, the position of conductorbar 58' on resistor 68 determines the relative speed of motors 25 and 26. Resistor 69 serves to regulate the speed of the vehicle. By decreasing the resistance provided by resistor 69 in the motor circuits, the vehicle speed is increased. By increasing the resistance provided by resistor 69 in the vehicle circuits, the vehicle speed is decreased. As will be apparent from the double differential provided in vehicle 10 of FIGURE 2, the motor turning at the greater speed will at any one moment provide the principal propulsive energy to drive differential 64 by means of well known differential action.

In FIGURE 3 is shown a plan view of a vehicle undergoing forward motion. The broken line representations are those of immediately prior positions to that shown in solid line representation. The vehicle is steered into barrier fence 70, but in so doing it is not stopped, but is diverted in its path of travel by wheel guards 71 (FIG. URE 2) contacting barrier fence to cause wheels 13' to be turned and to cause the vehicle to travel along the barrier. The vehicle is therefore not stopped by encounter with an object which it approaches at an angle of approximately 45 degrees or less. Centrifugal means 30 and 40 (FIGURE 1) may be changed in position by force transmitted through bifurcate member 22 as well as by variation in rotational speed of motors 25 and 26 thereby enabling steerable wheels 13' to be deflected by contact of the wheel guards with an object.

In FIGURE 4 is shown steering wheel 57' of FIGURE 2 with accelerating lever 72 provided with spring return means 73. Lever 72 is biased to move contact means 9 thereon along resistor 68. Reversing switch 51" is disposed so that it may be readily operated by finger movement of the vehicle operator. Pendulum means 74 is connected by a universal joint to the hub of wheel 57' so that when wheel 57 is rotated, contact feeler member 75 afiixedly attached to pendulum means 74 is caused to traverse resistor 69. Resistor 69 is fixedly attached to wheel 57'. Reversing switch 51 preferably comprises sliding contact members which make a circuit connection with the hub of wheel 57 thereby enabling switch 51' to be operably reversed at any position of wheel 57.

In FIGURE 5 is shown a side elevation of the embodiment of FIGURE 4 with wheel 57 shown by broken line representation in changed position. As shown, pendulum 74 depends substantially vertically at all times regardless of the position of wheel 57'. As shown in broken line representation wheel 57 may be rotated about a horizontal axis as Well as a vertical axis without disturbing the vertical position of pendulum 74, through means of universal joint 76. Flexible electrical cable may be provided as shown extending substantially from the top of pendulum 74 and from the bottom of the pendulum. Two wires of the cable may be connected to the battery or transformer or to rectifier means in the manner shown in FIGURES 1 and 2 and the remaining wires of the cable may be connected to the vehicle being controlled.

The steering means illustrated in FIGURES 4 and 5 enables the operator of a vehicle to be positioned at a location remote from the vehicle and to hold the steering wheel means in front of him in whatever position and elevation desired. The steering wheel may be tilted to any position between vertical and horizontal while hand held without other support to enable the operator to steer the vehicle as one would steer an automobile. The proportional steering embodiment of the invention comprising the centrifugally responsive paired toggle joint means on the output shaft of the drive motors constitutes a principal inventive embodiment in the vehicle. The vehicle steering means is continuously responsive to change in the voltages supplied to the drive motors and is sensitive to slight changes in rotational speeds of the motors. At the relatively high rotational speeds at which small horsepower motors turn, the weighted toggle joint means shown as members 29 and 30 of FIGURE 1 cause the steerable front wheels of the vehicle and linkage connected thereto to float responsively to lateral forces exerted on the steerable wheels by objects in the path of the vehicle. The effect produced is similar to that produced in highway vehicles and is aided by the provision of wheel guards 71 as shown in FIGURE 2. Toggle joints 29 and 30 of FIGURE 1 may comprise equi-weighted means 40 and 40' as shown or such additional weights may be eliminated without affecting the proportional characteristic of the steering, but affecting only the force exerted on turning steerable wheels 13.

In FIGURE 6 is shown another embodiment of the invention comprising a modified construction of the centrifugally responsive means of FIGURES 1 and 2. Motor 25 drives shaft 85 which corresponds to the shaft of motor 25 in FIGURE 1. Collar 86 is fixedly attached to shaft 85 by means of set screw 81, and collar 84 is slidably mounted to move longitudinally on shaft 85. A portion of steering member 22 (which corresponds to and may be mounted in the same way as member 22 of FIGURE 1) is engaged with collar 84 and is moved in a manner similar to that for steering member 22 of FIGURES 1 and 2. A second motor and centrifugally responsive device may be provided in symmetrical arrangement in a manner similar to that shown for the similar means of FIGURES 1 and 2, but need not necessarily be provided. Each of resilient elastic springs 82 has a weight 83 attached thereto and is fixedly attached at each end to collars 80 and 84 respectively. Each of springs 82 may be a leaf spring. Each of weights 83 responds to increase in centrifugal force, caused by an increase in shaft speed, by movement laterally outward from shaft 85 thereby causing elastic distortion into an outwardly bowed configuration of the member 82 to which it is attached. Outward bowing of members 82 causes the distance between the ends thereof to become short-er which causes collar 84 to slide axially on shaft 85 toward collar 80. Each of members 82 may be of su stantially flat or nearly flat configuration when rotation of shaft 85 is ceased. The displacement of collar 84 in response to centrifugal force biases steering member 22' in operable manner similar to that shown for FIG- URES 1 and 2. Any number or type of resilient members may be used which have sufficient mass (in themselves or added thereto, as by weights 83).

They may be biased toward maximum distance between collars such as collars 80 and 84 by the spring action of members 82 (or like members) themselves or by the biasing action of a co-acting second centrifugally responsive means as described in connection with FIGURES 1 and 2 or by the act-ion of a member such as helical spring 82, which may, of course, be omitted if desired.

Two members 82 and 83 are shown to provide suit-able static and dynamic balancing with respect to the shaft but, if desired, as in cases where balancing is not important, one of members 82 and 83 may be omitted. Alternatively, there may be provided 3, 4 or 5 or more of each, in order to obtain forces and amplitudes which may be desired or to meet balancing requirements.

The invention may be utilized with internal combus-' tion engines in place of one or more electric motors.

In FIGURE 7 is shown a modification of the steering linkage member 22 of FIGURES 1 and 2 adapted for use in a toy boat. Linkage member 22", similar to member 22 of FIGURE 1, is mounted to pivot about pin 23' and is configured with gear sector 86 which operably engages with pinion gear 87. A vertical propeller shaft casing 88 is affixed to the hub of gear 87 so as to cause the housing at the lowest extremity of the propeller shaft to be rotated about a vertical axis thereby operably steering propeller 90 in well-known manner. Propulsive power to propeller 90 may be provided by motor means connected to the vertical propeller shaft 91 in any manner as may be desired. Power may be supplied by gearing the propeller shaft to the motor shaft of a steering motor or to a separate propulsive drive motor in manners such as those shown in FIGURES 1 and 2.

While certain modifications and embodiments of the invention have been described, it is of course to be understood that there are a great number of variations which will suggest themselves to anyone familiar with the subject matter thereof and it is to be distinctly understood that this invention should not be limited except by such limitations as are clearly imposed in the appended claims.

I claim:

1. Means for steering at least one Wheel of a vehicle, said means comprising two drive shafts, driving means for each of said shafts, means to vary the rotational speeds of said shafts in inverse relation to each other, a governor driven by each of said shafts, a link pivotally mounted on said vehicle, means connecting said governors to said link to cause the positions of the outputs of said governors to determine the position of said link, a portion of said veh cle rotatable about a vertical axis, a wheel attached to said portion to support at least part of the weight of said vehicle, means attaching said link to said portion to move said portion and said wheel steerably in proportion to the movement of said link.

2. In a vehicle comprising a steering portion and a steered portion, means for holding said steering portion in any desired rotational position with respect to said steered portion comprising:

two drive shafts,

means to drive each shaft,

means to vary the rotational speeds of said shafts in inverse relation to each other,

two governors, each driven by one of said shafts,

link means pivotally mounted on said steered portion,

means connecting said link means to said governors to cause the rotational position of said link means with respect to its pivot to be determined by the action of said governors,

means attaching said link means to said steering portion so that the steering position and movement of said steering portion correspond to that of said link means.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 656,389 8/1900 Collins -6.28 1,951,505 3/1934 Dambrine 46244 2,775,848 1/1957 Isaacson 46-244 2,993,299 7/1961 Dingee et al 46244- DELBERT B. LOWE, Primary Examiner.

RICHARD C. PINKHAM, Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US656389 *Dec 18, 1899Aug 21, 1900Collins Electric Vehicle CompanyMotor-vehicle.
US1951505 *Nov 3, 1932Mar 20, 1934Alfred Dambrine MauriceElectrically driven child's auto
US2775848 *Jun 29, 1956Jan 1, 1957Jay V Zimmerman CompanySelf-steering toy vehicle
US2993299 *Jan 23, 1958Jul 25, 1961Dickinson Thorn WRemotely controlled trackless vehicle
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3579906 *Dec 19, 1969May 25, 1971Forge David H LaMiniature steerable vehicle and track system therefor
US3983953 *Nov 22, 1974Oct 5, 1976Gemmer-FranceServo mechanism
US4200287 *Feb 16, 1978Apr 29, 1980Ideal Toy CorporationRemotely controlled miniature vehicle
US4272917 *Jan 25, 1980Jun 16, 1981Smith EngineeringSteering assembly rendering car unstable in a turn
US4508516 *Aug 3, 1983Apr 2, 1985Arco Industries Ltd.Steering system and reversible drive for toy vehicles
US4954820 *Mar 23, 1989Sep 4, 1990Futaba Denshi Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaTransmitter for radio control system
US7793951 *Feb 6, 2006Sep 14, 2010Traxxas LpIntegrated center point steering mechanism for a model vehicle
Classifications
U.S. Classification180/443, 180/6.2, 446/454, 180/2.1, 446/460, 180/6.5
International ClassificationA63H30/00, A63H30/02, A63H17/00, A63H17/39, A63H17/36
Cooperative ClassificationA63H17/36, A63H30/02
European ClassificationA63H30/02, A63H17/36