US 3304090 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. 14, 1967 L) MORRIS 3,304,090
BALL AND RACEWAY AMUSEMENT DEVICE Original Filed Sept. 25, 1961 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 fie. 3.
Feb. 14, 1967 r L. MORRIS BALL AND RACEWAY AMUSEMENT DEVICE 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 Original Filed Sept. 25, 1961 INVENTOR. lay/.5 Maw/5' Feb. 14, 1967 1.. MORRIS BALL AND RACEWAY AMUSEMENT DEVICE .3 Sheets-Sheet 5 Original Filed Sept. 25, 1961 IN V EN TOR [OH/J Mom/J BY Z2 7 JIM 197' fflK/Vf/J Patented Feb. 14, 1967 3,304,090 BALL AND RACEWAY AMUSEMENT DEVICE Louis Morris, R0. Box 23356, Los Angeles, Calif. 90023 Continuation of application Ser. No. 140,978, Sept. 25, 1961. This application Get. 22, 1965, Ser. No. 506,445 13 Claims. (Cl. 273109) This application is a continuation of application, Serial No. 140,978 which was filed on September 25, 1961, as a continuation-in-part of application Serial No. 838,688, filed September 8, 1959. Both of these applications have now been abandoned.
This invention relates to amusement devices, and, more particularly, is concerned with a game requiring manipulative skill to cause a ball to move along a raceway.
In brief, the present invention is directed to an amusement device consisting of a pair of guide members supported from a handle which is gripped by the operator. A ball is caused to roll along the raceway formed by the guide members, and the guide members have an enlarged space at at least one position therealong through which the ball can pass between the guide members. The spacing between the guide members is gradually increased as the ball approaches the point where it passes between the guide members. This tapered region causes the speed of rotation of the ball to increase and the forward advance of the ball to be slowed down as it approaches the point where it passes through the guides. There is a transfer of forward momentum into spin momentum. The gradual taper permits the ball to remain in contact with the guide members as it passes between them, the spin of the ball causing it to reverse its direction motion and move back along the opposite side of the guide members after they are inverted. By exercising skill and timing in manipulation, as the ball starts through the enlarged space, the operator can invert the guide members by means of the handle in such a way that the spin imparted to the ball makes the ball climb upwardly along the opposite sides of the now inverted guide members.
For a more complete understanding of the invention, reference should be made to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIGURE 1 is a plan view of one embodiment of the invention;
FIGURE 2 is a sectional view taken substantially on the line 22 of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a plan view of another embodiment of l the present invention;
FIGURE 4 is a sectional view taken substantially on the line 44 of FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 5 is a plan view of yet another embodiment of the present invention;
FIGURE 6 is a plan view of a further embodiment of the present invention;
FIGURE 7 is an elevational view of the same embodiment of FIGURE 6;
FIGURE 8 shows a further embodiment of the present invention; and
FIGURE 9 is a cross section view taken along line 99 of FIGURE 6.
Referring to FIGURE 1 in detail, the numeral 10 indicates generally a handle to which are secured a pair of guide members 12 and 14. The guide members are in the form of dowels or rods made of wood, plastic, or the like, and which extend from the handle 10 to an end plate 16. In the arrangement shown in FIGURE 1, the guide members are preferably arranged in diverging fashion. The rods 12 and 14 extend through a stop member 18 near the handle.
The spacing betwen the guide members 12 and 14 in the region of the stop member 18 and over a substantial portion of the distance between the members 16 and 18 is such as to support a ball, such as indicated by the dashed line at 20. The ball is preferably a conventional ping-pong ball because of its light weight in relation to its size. However, the invention may be used with heavier balls and may be designed to function with balls of a different size. The spacing increases between the guide members 12 and 14 to a point adjacent the end member 16, where the distance between the guide members becomes greater than the diameter of the ball. Where the taper is not sufficient over the length of the device to permit the ball to drop between the guide members, the inner surfaces of the guide rods can be cut away, as indicated at 22, to permit the ball to pass between the guide members.
In operation, the handle 10 is held inthe hand of the operator of the device and the ball is placed on the guide rods 12 and 14 at a point adjacent the stop member 18. The ball is permitted to roll toward the outer ends of the guide rods by raising the handle. When the ball reaches the point where it can drop between the guide members 12 and 14, the position of the rods 12 and 14 is inverted by twisting the handle through If this maneuver is properly timed and executed, the spin of the ball causes it to climb back out of the space between the rods and roll along the opposite sides of the guide members 12 and 14 which are now turned upwardly. This operation can be repeated over and over, and, if skillfully executed, the ball can be made to roll along both sides of the guide members 12 and 14 by inverting the guide members as the ball passes through the wide space between the guide members.
For smaller children whose coordination is not sufficiently developed to execute the maneuver, and for peo- 'ple who are learning to manipulate the device, additional rods 24 and 26 may be positioned above and below the guide members 12 and 14 in such a position as to prevent the ball 20 from falling off the guide rods 12 and 14.
The ability of the operator to control the ball depends upon the fact that the guide members diverge at a relatively small angle in the region where the ball passes between the guide members. The efiect of this is to make the points of contact between the ball and the two guide members move toward the two ends of the diametral spin axis of the ball. It is evident that if the support of the ball is at exactly the ends of the diametral axis, the ball will spin at its support without any forward motion. Thus, as the ball rolls along the guide members and it approaches the position where it passes between the guide members, the points of support are moved towards the ends of the diametral axis about which the ball is rotating. As a result, the angular spin velocity of the ball increases and the forward movement of the ball decreases due to the taper. By reducing the forward momentum of the ball as it approaches the point where it passes between the guides and by increasing the spin velocity of the ball, control of the ball can be maintained by the operator. Thus, it is the gradual taper in the region where the ball passes between the guides that lends the element of skill to the operation of the toy. If the spacing between the guide members widens abruptly, the ball merely rolls down the guides and drops through the opening, the forward momentum of the ball continuing to carry it forward as it passes between the guide members, making it impossible to reverse the direction of the ball and make the ball return along the opposite side of the inverted guide members.
It should be noted that the ball must remain in contact with the guide members continuously so that the spin of the ball causes it to roll back in the opposite direction after passing between the guide members, or, to put it another way, the ball is supported solely by the guide members as it moves from one gu-ideway to the guideway ion the op posite side by way of the tapered section between the guide members. It has been found that only with a taper t less than 20" at the region where the ball passes between the guide numbers can a skilled operator successfiully maintain contact between the ball and the guide members as the guide members are inverted. It should be noted that the length of the taper Lin and of itself is not critical. In the arrangement of FIGURE 1 described above, the taper continues over the hull length of the guide members. However, the guide members may be parallel over a substantial portion of their length, as is provided in the modifications described below, with the taper only being long enough to gradually widen the spacing sufliciently for the ball to pass between the guides.
In the alternative arrangement shown in FIGURES 3 and 4, a spiral guide member 28 is provided which is shaped to form a pair of substantially equally spaced guide edges 3(i an'd 32. The spiral is shown as including one and a half turns, but this may be varied if desired. The guide member 28 is supported by a handle 34 at points including the inner turn and outer of the spiral-shaped guide member. The spiral path along which the ball is guided by the guide member 28 terminates at both its inner end and an outer end, as indicated at 36 and 38, respectively, along a substantially common axis with the handle 34. The spacing between the guide edges 30 and 32 is widened by tapering the edges at the inner and outer ends sufficiently to permit the ball to pass through the guide member 28 at these points.
Operation is similar to that described above in connection with FIGURES 1 and 2, except that the ball can be permitted to continuously spin in one direction by twisting the handle 34 through a 180 inverting maneuver as the ball reaches either extremity of the guide path.
In the embodiment of FIGURE 5, the amusement device is shown according to one of its embodiments in which the guide members :are formed from a single rod member indicated generally at 40. The two ends of the rod member 40 are brought together to form a handle portion at 42. The rod 40 provides two substantially parallel guide portions 44 and 46. The spacing between these guide portions in the intermediate region is less than the diameter of the ball, but the spacing increases gradually towards the outer end and towards the handle sufliciently to permit the ball to pass through the space between the guide members 44 and 46.
In operation, the ball is permitted to roll along the guide portions 44 and 46 toa point where it passes down between the two guide portions of the rod. The handle is then given a 180 twist, and if this maneuver is properly timed, the ball, due to its spin, starts to roll back toward the other end where the maneuver is repeated. Thus, by skillful operation, the ball can be made to continuously pass back and forth and through the enlarged end regions in a looped path without the operator ever dropping the ball.
In the form of the invention as shown in FIGURES 6, 7 and 9, two pairs of guide members are provided which are located one below the other in normal condition of operation. A rod 50 forming one of the upper pair of guide members, as shown in FIGURE 6, includes a handle portion 52 at one end. A second rod member 54 extends parallel to the first rod member 50 and is held in lateral spaced relationship by a pair of pins 56 and 58 extending through holes in the rod members 50 and 54 at either end. The rod members 50 and 54 are spaced sufiiciently close to support a ball, positioned as indicated at 60, in the central region between the ends of the rods. However, the rod 50 is gradually reduced in thickness at either end by removing a portion of the rod, providing flat tapered regions on the inner surface thereof, :as indicated at 62 and 64, respectively. The reduced cross section of the rod 50 is sufiioient to permit the ball, when in the position indicated at 66, for example, to pass between the rods 50 and 54. Thus, the arrangement as so fiar described in connection with FIGURE 6 operates in identical 4 fiashion to the embodiment described above in connection with FIGURE 1.
The lateral spacing between the rods 50 and 54 can be adjusted by sliding the rod 54 along the pins 56 and 58. Changing the spacing between the rods aifects the speed at which the ball travels along the rods, the wider the spacing the slower the forward progress of the ball and the higher the spin velocity Olf the ball in the middle region.
An additional feature of the form of the invention illustrated in FIGURES 6, 7 and 9 is the fact that the tapered portions 62 and 64 are flat in the direction trans verse to the longitudinal direction of the guides. This gives improved control of the ball :as it passes from one side of the guides 50 and 54 to the other if the guide 50 passes below the ball during the twisting maneuver. The flat surface gives some support to the ball over a slightly greater portion of the balls movement as it passes between the guides, thereby giving the operator somewhat greater control of'theball during the twisting or inverting maneuver. Also the taper at 62 and 64 preferably is not uni-form, i.e., the flat region is not a planar surface but is slightly concave. In this way, the taper is less as the ball approaches the widest point between the guides where the ball passes between the guides. This curvature of the tapered regions causes the ball to slow down more rapidly and approach the point where it passes between the guides more slowly than if the taper were constant.
However, as shown in FIGURES 7 and 9, a second pair of rods 68 and 70 may be provided in this embodiment. Rods 68 and 70 are identical respectively to rods 50 and 54. Thus, the rod 68 includes a handle portion 72 which is secured to the handle portion 52 of the rod 50 by a spacer block 74. The rods 50 and 68 are held at their opposite ends by a pin 76 extending through holes in the respective rod members. A similar pin 78 may be provided adjacent the handle end of the rods 50 and 68. The rods 50 and 68 are preferably arranged with spacing therebetween increasing away from the handle end.
In the arrangement of FIGURES 6, 7 and 9, the ball, after rolling along the upper pair of rods 50 and 54, may be permitted to drop through to the lower pair of rods 68 and 70 and then permitted to roll along the lower pair of rods to the enlarged spacing indicated by the position 66' of the ball where it passes through to the lower side of the bottom rods 68 and 70. At this point, the operator maneuvers the handle through a 180 twist, thus bring ing the rods 68 land 70 into! the uppermost position and causing the ball to roll back along the top of these rods.
Additional pairs of rods similar to the pairs 50, 54 and 68, 70 may be arranged in further tiers, one below the other, to provide a rat race type of configuration.
FIGURE 8 shows a further embodiment of the invention in which the ball can be retained within a cage formed by a plurality of guide members. This arrangement has the advantage that the ball does not fully escape from control and fall on the floor when the toy is improperly operated. In the embodiment shown in FIG- URE 8, a central rod 80 is provided, one end of which forms a handle 82. A pair of disc members 84 and 86 are positioned adjacent one end of the rod and the handle respectively. A plurality of guide members 88 are supported between the discs 84 and 86, there being eight such guide members by way of example. The guide members are equally spaced about the outer periphery of the disc so that they all are equally spaced from the central rod 80. They are arranged with the space between adjacent guide members 88 being less than the diameter of the hall, indicated at 89. The distance between the guide members and the surface at the central region of the rod 80 is also less than the diameter of the ball.
The diameter of the rod 80 is reduced in the regions adjacent each of the discs 84 and 86. While the reduced cross-sectional region of the rod 80 may be circular, the
toy is somewhat easier to operate if the reduced crosssectional regions are made octagonal in cross-sectional shape. Thus a series of eight flat surfaces form the periphery of the rod 80 in the reduced cross-sectional regions where the ball passes between the guides 88 and the rod 80. Thus, the rod 80 forms with each guide 88 a toy equivalent to the toy of FIGURE 6 in which flat tapered regions are provided also.
Operation of the embodiment of FIGURE 8 is similar to the arrangement described above in connection with FIGURE 6. A ball is caused to roll between one of the guide members 88 and the central rod 80. As the ball approaches either of the regions of reduced cross-sectional diameter of the central rod 80, its forward momentum is slowed and its spin velocity increases until it reaches a point where it can pass between one of the guide members and the opposing flat tapered surface of the rod 80. At this point, the handle 82 is twisted through 180 and the ball then engages the opposite side of the same guide member 88. If the maneuver is not correctly executed, the ball nevertheless will not fall out of the toy because it is retained within the confines of the guide members 88. It may be caught by another guide member 88 and the basic maneuver attempted again.
From the above description it will be recognized that there has been provided a novel toy requiring skill and dexterity in its operation, from which is derived interest in the toy. The taper, as the ball approaches the point where it passes between the guide members on which it rolls, must be sufliciently gradual to permit the rotational velocity to increase and the forward velocity to decrease. Thus, with the guides tilted down to cause the ball to roll, the ball nevertheless slows up as it approaches the point where it passes through the guides. This permits the operator to retain control of the ball by not losing contact of the ball with the guides during the inverting maneuver. An angle of taper of less than 20 between the guides has been found essential to achieve the desired mode of operation.
It has been found, for example, that the ball can be placed on the toy near the handle and the opposite end of the guides pointed downwardly at an incline. The ball then rolls down the guides, picking up speed until the tapered region is entered. The ball then slows up and completely stops its forward movement as it passes between the guides without any change in the tilt of the guides. Moreover, the guides can be inverted While the ball passes between the guides, and with the tilt of the guides unchanged, the ball, because of its spin velocity, will start to roll uphill on the opposite but now inverted side of the guides towards the handle, never losing contact with the guides.
1. A toy comprising first and second parallel rods held in spaced relation adjacent their ends, a handle secured to the rods for twisting the rods about a longitudinal axis to invert the position of the rods, and a ball having a diameter largerthan the spacing between the rods, whereby the ball can roll along the rods as guides, the first rod having a region adjacent at least one end in which the inner surface directly opposite the second rod is flattened, the flattened region gradually increasing in distance from the opposite rod along the length of the first rod to a point where the spacing is equal to the diameter of the ball while the portion of the opposite rod directly opposite to the flattened portion of the first rod remains parallel to the non-flattened portion of the first rod, whereby the ball upon manipulation of the toy can be transferred from one side of the rods to the other by passing completely through the space between the rods while being supported solely by surfaces of said rods.
2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein the spacing between the flattened region of the first rod and the second rod changes gradually and nonuniformly along the length of the flattened region such that the flattened region forms a slightly concave surface, the change being most gradual at the point where the spacing between the rods equals the diameter of the ball.
' 3. A toy consisting of a pair of poles fixedly secured together at one end to form a handle, the poles progressively diverging from the handle toward their opposite ends, a spacer mounted between and secured to said opposite ends of the poles to retain the latter spread a predetermined extent, said spacer and said diverging poles de fining therebetween a substantially triangular shaped space, the toy further including a ball adapted to move longitudinally on certain surfaces of the poles, the diameter of the ball being in excess of the distance between the poles from a point adjacent the handle to a point adjacent said spacer, at which latter point the distance between the poles is greater than the diameter of the ball, to permit the ball to gravitate through the opening, during rotational movement of the poles, for intercepting the ball and permitting it to be transferred to, and moved longiudinally over, the opposite surfaces of the poles.
4. A toy comprising a pair of poles fixedly secured at both sets of their ends in spaced-apart relation,
(a) the poles progressively diverging from one set of ends toward the opposite set of the ends to define therebetween a substantially triangular shaped space;
(b) a ball adapted to move longitudinally on certain surfaces of the poles;
(c) the diameter of the ball being in excess of the distance between the poles from a point adjacent said one set of ends to a point adjacent said other set of ends at which latter point the distance between the poles is greater than the diameter of the ball to permit the ball to gravitate through the opening; and
(d) means associated with said poles to invert and tilt said pair of poles as the ball gravitates through said opening to cause the ball to be transferred to, and moved longitudinally over, the opposite surfaces of the poles.
5. A toy comprising:
(a) first means for providing spaced-apart members defining guideways against which a ball can roll to develop a rolling movement;
(b) second means including spaced-apart members joined to said first means defining guideways tapered gradually outward to a separation sufficient to permit the ball to pass therebetween;
(c) said second means permitting the points of contact of the ball with a tapered guideway to gradually shift towards the spherical diameter of the ball while said ball remains in contact with said guideway whereby the rolling movement of said ball on one of said guideways is converted into spinning movement and then to rolling movement on the other of said guideways.
6. A toy in accordance with claim 5 wherein the spacedapart members of said first means are generally parallel rods and the spaced-apart members of said second means are extensions from one end of said parallel rods which define the gradually tapered guideways of the second means.
7. A toy in accordance with claim 6, and including third means constituting a mirror image of said second means but extending from the other ends of the parallel rods of said first means and having a taper oppositely directed as compared to said second means so that the guideways of said first means are joined at both sets of their ends to form a closed loop for movement of the ball therearound.
8. A toy in accordance with claim 5, and including handle means connected to said means to permit the toy to be manipulated to permit the ball to move along the guideways of said first and second means.
9. A toy in accordance with claim 5 wherein the spacedapart members of said first means are parallel rods shaped in a spiral with the tapered guideways of said second means being located at the inner and outerends of the spiral which lie in a common axis.
10. A toy in accordance with claim 5 wherein the taper of said second means comprises a tapered fiat on at least one of the spaced-apart members of said second means in facing relation to the other spaced-apart member of said second means.
11. A toy comprising:
(a) first means for providing a pair of guideways against which a ball can roll to develop a rolling movement;
(b) second means associated with the guideways of said first means comprising guideways at least one of which includes a portion separated sufl'lciently to permit the ball to pass therebetween;
(c) said second means permitting the points of contact of the ball with said guideway having said separated portion to shift towards the spherical diameter of the ball while said ball remains in contact with said guideway whereby the rolling movement of said ball on one of said guideways is converted into spinning movement and then rolling movement on the other guideway of said second means.
12. A toy in accordance with claim 11, and including a third means constituting a duplicate of said second means but with its separated portion extending in an opposite direction to that of the separated portion of said second means, said third means associated with the guideways of said first means and spaced from said second means whereby a continuous loop for the ball is formed by the guideways of said first, second and third means.
13. A toy in accordance with claim 11 wherein the guideways of the first means are formed by spaced apart rods and the guideways of said second means are extensions from the spaced apart rods, at least one extension of the rods having an outwardly tapered surface in facing relation to the other extension of the rods.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,972,587 9/ 1934 Fairchild 273109 2,237,748 4/ 1941 Schwarzenzer 27 3-109 3,008,715 11/1961 Bachman 273-109 RICHARD C. PINKHAM, Primary Examiner.
LOUIS J. BOVASSO, Examiner.