US 3290498 A
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Dec.. 6, 1966 R. G. LAHR y @ZQAQS TOY VEHICLE ACTUATED LANE SWITGHING DEVICE Filed April 24, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 @mgl f lllllllllllllll Jmdw "AWN HTTRNE Y,
R H A L a R.
TOY VEHICLE ACTUATED LANE SNITCHING DEVICE Filed April 24, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet INVENTOR.
United States Patent Oilce 3,299,498 Patented Bec. 6, 1966 3,290,498 'IDY VEHICLE ACTUA'IED LANE SWITCHING DEVICE Robert G. Lahr, West Los Angeles, Calif., assignor to The A. C. Gilbert Company, New Haven, Conn., a corporation of Maryland Filed Apr. 24, 1964, Ser. No. 362,258
9 Claims. (Cl. 246-415) This invention relates to means for alfording random uncertainty and increased enthusism for contesting players in the performance of model wheeled vehicles in race game toys operated by the players through remote control of propulsion current derived by the vehicles from the roadbed on which the vehicles can travel in a choice of lanes. The present improvements particularly concern a type of roadbed that contains main and branch lanes dened by grooves that are tracked by model vehicles such as miniature racing cars, as is disclosed in a copending application, Ser. No. 127,302, liled l'uly 27, 1961, now U.S. Patent No. 3,206,122 issued Sept. 14, 1965, of common ownership with the instant application.
An object of the invention is to determine without direct manipulation of a shiftable lane switch whether a miniature wheeled vehicle shall or shall not be directed into a branch lane from a main lane in which it is traveling as it approaches the branch lane switch.
Another object is to make the shifting or nonshifting of the lane switch a function of the wheel speed of the vehicle in passing a predetermined point on the roadbed during approach of the vehicle to the lane switch.
Another object is to cause the tongue of a lane switch to be shifted in opposite directions depending on whether or not the propulsion motor of the vehicle is subjected to reduction in current as it passes said predetermined spot.
A further object is to cause the tongue of the lane switch to be restored automatically to a position from which it was shifted as a result of travel of the car past the lane switch.
These and other objects of the invention will appear in greater particular from the following description of a preferred embodiment of the invention having reference to the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. l is a plan view of a grooved roadbed equipped with branch lane switching means embodying the present improvements.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 1 showing the top wall of a hollow toy roadbed cut away to expose underlying parts.
FIG. 3 is a view on a further enlarged scale contracted in length and taken in section on the planes 3 3 in FIG. 2, looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 4 is a view in section on the 4plane 4-4 in FIG. 3 looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 5 is a view in section on the plane 5-5 in FIG. 2 looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the car wheel actuated slidable tread, and its linkage to the tongue of the lane switch, detached from the roadbed.
FIGS. 7 and 8 are fragmentary plan views of a lane junction on the roadbed showing a model vehicle approaching the lane switch when its tongue is swung to respectively different positions.
FIG. 9 is a view showing the roadbed and vehicle of FIG. 7 in side elevation.
In FIGS. 7 and 8 a stretch of plural lane hollow model roadbed 12 of insulative material is shown containing a straight groove 13 extending centrally of what will be termed the main lane of vehicle travel and containing a divergent groove 14 extending centrally of what will be termed a branch lane of vehicle travel. Grooves 13 and 14 merge at a switch tongue 15 pivoted in the roadbed at CJI 16 and. having an angled tail piece 17 extending away from pivot 16 at the opposite side thereof.
Roadbed 12 further has two apertures 22 flanking opposite sides of the main lane and spaced laterally apart suiiiciently to permit electrical conductors 23 and 24 lodged in the roadbed to extend between the apertures at respectively opposite sides of the groove 13. Propulsion current is picked up from roadbed conductors 23, 24 by vehicle carried collectors 39, 30 respectively in the usual way.
The said two apertures 22 are occupied respectively by upwardly exposed traction treads 31 whose ribbed top surfaces are substantially ush with the top surface of the roadbed. The apertures are spaced laterally apart a distance to register respectively with two powered traction wheels 27, 28 of a model vehicle or racing car whose chassis is represented at 25 in FIGS. 7, 8, and 9. The traction wheels are driven by any conventional transmission gearing (not shown) operably connecting the wheels to the vehicle carried electric propulsion motor 26 which is preferably of a type to be abruptly responsive to drop or increase of voltage fed to the roadbed conductors 23, 24- so that corresponding drop or increase instantly takes place in the rotary speed of the traction wheels 27, 28. The front wheel truck 34 of the vehicle is pivotally connected to the chassis of the vehicle at 35 and carries xedly depending therefrom the pilot leg 36 which tracks continually in the grooves-of the roadbed, as for instance to determine the course of the car as between a main lane and a branch lane.
Traction treads 31 are unitary with a push-pull slide link 40 most clearly shown in FIG. 6 where it is seen that the remainder of the link comprises a thin tapering horizontal blade 41 extending from treads 31 at a lower level beneath and parallel with the top wall of the hollow roadbed. Blade 41 has its remote end 42 pivotally coupled at 43 to the free end of an actuating crank arm 44 which is fast on the bottom end of a short vertical shaft 45 that xedly carries the switch tongue 15 at its opposite top end above the roadbed. Shaft 45 extends through and is journaled in a bearing hole in the top wall of the roadbed.
The treads 31 have antifrictional support respectively on two rollers 46 which are free to turn on trunnion spindles 47 whose ends are lodged removably but rmly in grooves 48 sunk in lugs that underhang the top wall of the roadbed. A resilient leaf detent 5@ is anchored on a side wall of the hollow roadbed in position to engage yieldingly in one or the other of detent notches 51, 52 in the edge of blade 41 of the slide link.
FIG. 1 shows the branch lane groove 14 flanked by conductors 23', 24 carrying propulsion current and merging at its remote end with an additional lane of vehicular travel dened by roadbed groove 13a anked by conductors 23a and 24a in the same manner as the main lane hereinbefore described. Double main lanes running sideby-side are a common feature of toyv race games and the branch groove 14 may serve as a cross-over from one to the other of such main lanes.
For understanding the operation it should first be considered that the traction wheels 27, 23 of a vehicle being impelled thereby normally kick backward on the road surface when they impel the vehicle forward. Thus when the vehicle wheels 27, 28 roll onto the treads 31 in the approach of the vehicle to the right toward switch tongue 15 a force is exerted on the treads tending to slide them to the left to the position shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 8. If at this time the switch tongue 15 is positioned as in these figures of the drawings, no shifting of the tongue will take place and the vehicle will continue along the grooves 13 and remain in the main lane as it passes the switch tongue. In so doing it will encounter and swing the tail piece 17 of the switch tongue counterclockwise out of its way to the position shown in FIG. 7. Any vehicle that next follows will restore the switch tongue to its original position if its traction wheels traverse the treads 31 with either undiminished or accelerating speed. However, if the traction wheels of a vehicle traveling toward the switch tongue just before coming to bear on the treads 31, or while passing thereover, have their rotary speed suddenly checked by abrupt reduction of the current supplied to propulsion motor 26 through roadbed conductors 23, 24, then the aforementioned kickback effect of the traction wheels on the treads will be lost and will be replaced by the overrunning momentum of the car. In consequence the traction wheels instead of impelling the car will momentarily be carried forward in the direction of car travel faster than accords with their decelerated rotary speed whereby force is applied to the treads that will maintain them in their position shown in FIG. 7. Through coupling blade 41 this swings the switch tongue counterclockwise to its corresponding position in FIG. 7 and thus diverts the vehicle into the branch lane along groove 14.
The remote controlled current fed to conductors 23, 24 can be abruptly reduced, or momentarily cut out entirely, by means of any f the variable rheostats customarily placed in lane circuits as speed control devices in model race games and vehicular trafiic systems, or in track rail systems in toy electric railroads. Such are well understoood and fully disclosed in the aforesaid U.S. Patent No. 3, 206,122 and need not therefore be illustrated herein.
In practicing the present improvements the tail 17 of the switch tongue may be omitted. It will be clear that if a vehicle should pass the switch tongue while traveling to the left in the branch lane it will wipe past and shift the tongue from its position in FIG. 1 to its position in FIG. 7. The roadbed conductors 23, 24, 23', 24', 23a and 24a may be interconnected conductively preferably in the hollow of the roadbed in any circuiting arrangement that suits the competing players and the roadbed may be made of break-down sections of the construction shown in the aforesaid patent. It will be clear from said patent that at least one of the roadbed groove paralleling conductors referred to in the following claims' may be located in the groove itself.
The appended claims are directed to and intended to cover all obvious equivalents and modifications of the herein disclosed parts and arrangements as come within a broad interpretation of their terms.
What is claimed is:
1. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device comprising a model roadbed, a main lane determining groove in said roadbed adapted to be tracked by a model self impelled vehicle, a branch lane determining groove in said roadbed adapted to be tracked by said vehicle merging with said main lane groove to afford a choice of said lanes to be traveled by said vehicle, conductors on said roadbed paralleling said grooves for supplying remote controlled current to said vehicle, a switch tongue at the junction of said grooves swingable sidewise to direct an arriving vehicle into one or the other 'of said grooves, a movable traction tread located to be traversed by the traction wheel of a vehicle traveling in said main lane mounted on said roadbed in a manner to be shiftable toward and away from said switch tongue and so operably connected to the latter that reduction of propulsion current in said conductors when said traction wheel is on said tread causes tongue actuating movement of said tread before said vehicle reaches said junction.
2. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 1, in which the said roadbed contains apertures on respectively opposite sides of the said main lane determining groove, and the said tread comprises separate wheel supporting seats occupying said apertures respectively laterally spaced to register with and underlie traction wheels of a vehicle tracking said grooves.
3. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 2, in which the said switch tongue is operably connected to both of the said wheel supporting seats.
4. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 3, in which the said switch tongue has a crank arm, together with a push-pull extension of the said wheel supporting seats pivotally coupled to said crank arm.
5. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 4, in which the said push-pull extension is located below the top surface of the said roadbed.
6. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 4, together with antifriction means carried by said roadbed in position to underlie and support the said wheel supporting seats.
7. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 6, in which the said antifriction means comprises rollers rotatably mounted in the said roadbed.
8. A toy vehicle actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 1, in which the said switch tongue is pivotally supported on the said roadbed, together with a tail piece unified to shift with said switch tongue into and out of overlapping relation to the said main lane determining groove.
9. A toy actuated branch lane switching device as defined in claim 1, together with a model wheeled vehicle having current collectors riding in conductive contact respectively with the said roadbed conductors and a pilot leg riding in tracking engagement with the said grooves.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 861,960 7/1907 Field 246-364 ARTHUR L. LA POINT, Primary Examiner.
S. B, GREEN, Assistant Examiner.