US 3330066 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 11, 1967 R. w. CRAWFORD 3,330,066
MAGNETIC CONNECTOR FOR WHEELED TOYS Filed Feb. 27, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 IN VEN TOR. RALPH W. CRAWFORD y 11, 1967 R. w. CRAWFORD MAGNETIC CONNECTOR FOR WHEELED TOYS 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Feb. 27, .1964
INVENTOR. RALPH W. CRAWFORD Filed Feb. 27, 1964, Ser. No. 347,742 19 Claims. (Cl. 46-241) This invention relates to a magnetic coupler for toys, and particularly to a coupler for movably connecting a toy to a magnetic object such an iron object or toy and preferably to another toy equipped with a corresponding coupler.
An object of the invention is to magnetically couple pairs of toys and particularly wheeled vehicles in towing relationships such as the cars and locomotive of a toy train.
Another object of the invention is to make a substantially unbreakable, safe, simple, economical, educational, and functional magnetic coupler for toys.
Another object of the invention'is to provide toys having coupling means that are educational, interesting and entertaining for children and also harmless to children and normal household furnishings.
Another object of the invention is to couple toys together by means of a magnetic coupler which will part without breaking and in response to a toy separating force insuflicient to injure the toys.
To these and other ends the invention resides in certain improvements and combinations, all as will be hereinafter more fully described, the novel features being pointed out in the claims at the end of the specification.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 shows an enlarged cross section of a coupler according to the invention;
FIG. 2 shows a front view of a coupler according to the invention; and
FIG. 3 shows a side elevation of a toy locomotive and car coupled by means of the invention;
FIG. 4 shows an enlarged side elevation of a fastener for the coupling according to the invention;
FIG. 5 shows a partially sectioned, partial side view of an uncoupled locomotive and car showing preferred means of attaching couplers to toys;
FIG. 6 shows an enlarged cross section view of the chain retaining means of the locomotive of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 shows an enlarged front elevation of the chain retaining means of the locomotive of FIG. 5;
FIG. 8 shows an enlarged cross section of the chain retaining means of the car of FIG. 5; and
FIG. 9 shows an enlarged bottom view of the chain retaining means of the carof FIG. 5.
As best shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the preferred embodiment of a coupler made in accordance with the present invention comprises a permanent magnet 10 fastened in a housing 11 by means of a fastener 12. The magnet 10 provides the attractive force for a coupling, and the housing 11 protects and holds the magnet.
Housing 11 is made of magnetic material, for example, steel, and is preferably formed in the illustrated cup shape, being a hollow cylinder having an open end 14 and a closed end 15 that has central aperture 16 formed therein. Magnet 10 is preferably recessed in the open end 14 of the housing 11 so as to be protected from striking contact or shock during toy coupling or other play. Magnetic housing 11 acts as a flux path for magnet 10 so that mag netic substances will be attracted to the open end of housing 11.
Magnet 10 can be any convenient shape or configuration and can be fabricated in the desired shape from many well known synthetic materials, but is preferably an an- I United States Patent 0 3,330,066 Patented July 11, 1967 nular or ring shaped magnet having a central opening 13 through which fastener 12 extends. The poles of magnet 10 can be arranged in several convenient ways. One simple form is to have one pole facing outward at the open end of housing 11 and the other facing inward against the back wall of housing 11. With such an arrangement a coupler with a magnet having an outward facing north pole and an induced south pole in the coupler housing would mutually attract and couple with another coupler having a magnet with an outward facing south pole and an induced north pole in the housing. Of course, opposite magnetic pole orientations must be selected for each of any pair of couplers that are desired to eflect a coupling between toys. For a multi-car train, for example, this can be conveniently arranged by having the couplers on the forward end of each car all of one magnetic pole orientation and having the couplers or the rear end of each car all of the opposite magnetic pole orientation.
Alternatively, the magnet 10 can be face magnetized and have two, four, or more poles arranged circumferentially and alternately around its periphery according to well known means. With such an arrangement, it is important that the means connecting such a coupler to a toy be twistable so that two magnetic couplers to be coupled can twist or rotate relative to each other for automatically orienting themselves for maximum mutual attraction.
Magnet 10 is held in its housing 11 by a fastener 12 shown in cross section in FIG. 1 and in side elevation in FIG. 4. A flange 26 engages the face of magnet 10, and the body of fastener 12 extends through the aperture 13 in magnet 10 and the aperture 16 in housing 11. Bent out tabs 25 engage the rear surface of the closed end of housing 11 to prevent retraction of fastener 12 from aperture 16. Tabs 25 are resilient so as to allow fastener 12 to be pushed through aperture 16 with its retainer end 17 forward. In the position illustrated in FIG. 1, tabs 25 are biased outward against the edges of aperture 16 in such a way that flange 26 of fastener 12 is urged toward the closed bottom 15 of housing 11 for holding magnet 10 in place.
Fastener 12 not only holds magnet 10 in its housing 11, but acts as a retainer for a swivel chain 18 for connecting the coupler 9 to a toy. The forward portion or retainer 17 of fastener 12 is adapted to hold the end link 19 of a swivel chain. As shown in FIG. 4, the fastener 12 has a tapered slot 28 and an opening 29 arranged so that the fastener can be bent open by spreading slot 28 and opening 29 to a position which allows link 19 to be passed through opening 29. The rod 31 connecting link 19 to the next link of the swivel chain is arranged to pass through opening 30 in the forward end of retainer 17. Fastener 12 is then bent back to its normal shape as illustrated in FIG. 4, in which shape link 19 cannot pass through either opening 30 or opening 29 and is thus held in place in retainer 17.
Means other than swivel chain 18 can be used to connect coupler 9 to a toy. String, rope, cord, flexible plastic rod or ribbon, and other forms of chain are examples of possible connecting means. It is preferred that any such connecting means be free swinging or flexible and twistable so as to hold coupler 9 in dependent relation to the toy, and to allow turning and other relative motion between coupled toys. The swivel chain connecting means 18 best shown in FIGS. 3 and 5 is preferred for connecting couplers to toys. As illustrated, the end links 23 and 24 of swivel chains 18 are respectively retained in a locomotive 20 and a car 21 for depending couplers 9 therefrom.
Many means are available for retaining end chain links 23 and 24 in locomotive 20 and car 21 respectively,
' ward is prevented by cab and'two preferred means are shown in cross section in FIG. 5 and are further illustrated in FIGS. 69. The
chain retaining structure for car 21 for retaining end link 24 is shown in cross section in FIGS. 5 and 8 and in bottom view in FIG. 9 and comprises a cavity 35 molded in the bottom of a plastic gondola body 36 of car 21 for loosely holding end link 24. Rod 37 connecting end link 24 with the next link ofchain 18 passes through a notch 38 between cavity 35 and exterior depression 40 that accommodates the next link of the chain 18 outside the body of the car. To connect coupler 9 to car 21 end link 24 is placed in cavity 35 with connecting bar 37 passing through notch 33 and the next link of the chain 18 resting in exterior depression 40. In such orientation, the plastic gondola body 36 is fastened to a block of wood 41 or other suitable material which forms the base of car 21 so as to effectively to close the bottom of cavity 35 and prevent withdrawal of end link 24 therefrom. As so retained, swivel chain 18 is free to twist and holds coupler in a dependent relation to car 21.
FIGS. 5-7 show the means for retaining end link 23 in locomotive 20. A link receiving aperture 45 is formed in the outer plastic wall 46 of locomotive 20. A slot 47 extends upward from aperture 45 for receiving the rod 48 that connects end link 23 with the next link of chain 18 which is accommodated in an exterior recess or depression 49 formed in wall 46. To connect coupler 9 to locomotive 20, end link 23 is inserted through aperture 45 and by means of a punch is moved through an arc within hollow space 50 to the position illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6. Bar 48 is thereby forced into slot 47. Up-
right ribs 53 are positioned behind aperture 45 for guiding end link 23 to insure its proper positioning as it is driven into hollow space 50.
The interior wall 51 of slot 47 is curved and is engaged by end link 23 above a prominent point 55. The maximum spacing obtainable between end link 23 and the next link of chain 18 is such that an interference in size is produced as end link 23 is forced over prominent point 55. Such interference retains end link in its illustrated position above prominent point 55. The relationship of end link 24, bar 48, the next link of chain 18, and coupler 9 is'such that any twisting, prying, pulling in any direction, or leveling of coupler 9 or chain 18 will not remove end link 23 from its position or move bar 48 from slot 47. Any pulling down on coupler 9 or chain 18 merely wedges end link 23 and bar 48 deeper into slot 47.'Pulling upward on coupler 9 and chain 18 in such a way as to move end link 23 and bar 48 downsurface 52 which is extended rearwardly beyond exterior depression 49 so that coupler 9 can be moved only a little above its horizontal position before it engages surfaces 52 which prevents its further elevation. Thus, it is very unlikely that a child could remove end link 23 from locomotive 20 without special tools.
In FIG. 5 the locomotive and car are shown in their uncoupled condition in which the. couplers 9 are twistably and loosely dependent. In such orientation, when the locomotive and car are pushed closer together the edges of couplers 9 mutually attract each other and snap upwardly into engagement. By attractive engagement and 'by moving the locomotive and car closer together couplers 9 each swing rapidly up from their loosely dependent positions and mutually engage in an abutting relation such as illustrated in FIG. 3. Such an up-swing-ing snapaction coupling produces sound and motion that is very entertaining for children. When uncoupled, as shown in FIG. 5, couplers 9 do not drag on'the floor but rest against vertical sides of their respective toys. This keeps the couplers properly oriented for a coupling and'protects them from damage.
Although the coupling illustrated in FIG. 3 is between two wheeled toys and specifically between a toy locomotive and car, the invention is not limited to wheeled toys or locomotives and cars. Automobile and trailer, tractor and trailer, tractor and farm machine and other toy couplings are possible with the use of couplers 9. Furthermore, a coupler 9 connectedto one toy can be used to couple that toy to any other toy made of magnetic material or any iron or other magnetic object such as a domestic stove or register. One of the advantages of the toy coupler according to the invention is its versatility in this regard, it having a great capacity to entertain children.
Although the drawings illustrate a preferred form of the inventive coupling, it is within the spirit of the invention to have 'one magnetic coupler connected to one toy and another magnetic connector or iron piece rigidly fixed to another toy so that when the two toys are coupled together relative toy motion is provided for by only one coupler connection. Also, it is within the spirit of the invention to movably connect an iron piece to a toy so that the iron is attracted to. a magnetic coupler rigidly fixed to another toy.
Some of the advantages of the toy coupler according to the invention include: the couplers will not harm children, and they protect coupled toys by uncoupling before toy separating forces'become suflicient to damage the toys; the couplers are easy to connect, strong enough for their intended purposes, durable, reliable, and practically unbreakable in normal use; such couplers delight children who enjoy the snap-action coupling. and who find the couplers useful for other purposes such as picking up magnetic objects or fastening toys to objects spirit of the invention and the scope :of the appendedv claims.
I claim: a
1. A pair of wheeled toys having attached thereto coupling means comprising two releasably abutting permanent magnet elements each of which is movably connected to a respective one of said pair of wheeled toys by means of flexible and rotatable members dependent respectfully from each of said toys.
2. The coupling means of claim 1 wherein said elements are connected to said'wheeled toys by means of chains dependent respectively from each of said wheeled toys. r
3. The toys of claim 1 wherein said flexible and rotatable members comprise ball and socket joint means. 4
4. The toys of claim 1 wherein said flexible and rotatable members comprise swivel chain means.
5. The toys of claim 1 wherein said elements compris V housings formed of magnetic material in at least one of which is a permanent magnet, and means for retaining said permanent magnet within said housing.
6. The toys of claim 5 including a swivel chain for attachingsaid housings to said toys and wherein said housings are generally cylindrical and open ended, and said magnetic element comprises a generally disc-shaped permanent magnet.
. 7. The toys of claim 5 wherein said housings are gene erally hollow and cylindrical having an open end .and a closed end provided with a central aperture therein, said permanent magnet is annular and recessed in said open end of said housing, a fastener engages said permanent magnet and extends through said permanent magnet and said apertures, the terminal ball of a swivel chain is lodged within said fastener, and said swivel chain is connected to said toy. 1
8. The coupling means of claim 7 wherein said fastener comprises a flange engaging the face surface of said permanent magnet, 21 generally tubular portion integral with said flange portion and extending through said permanent magnet and said aperture and having a head end for retaining the terminal ball of said swivel chain, side portions of said tubular portion being formed to provide flexible snap-retainer means for preventing withdrawal of said fastener through said aperture and said permanent magnet.
9. A pair of wheeled toys having respective parts of a two-part coupler attached thereto, each part of said coupler being flexibly and rotatably dependent from a respective one of said pair of toys, and each part of said coupler comprising a permanent magnetic element.
10. The toys of claim 9 including ball and socket joint means for connecting each part of said coupler to a respective one of said toys.
11. The toys of claim 9 including a swivel chain for connecting each part of said coupler to a respective one of said toys.
12. A pair of wheeled toys having coupling means attached to the ends thereof, said coupling means comprising: a pair of elements at least one of which is a permanent magnet; and universal motion means connected respectively to each of said elements and to said ends of said toys at points above the bottoms of said toys so that said elements in uncoupled condition rest obliquely against said ends of said toys.
13. The toys of claim 12 wherein said universal motion means comprises a swivel chain.
14. The toys of claim 12 wherein said universal motion means comprises a ball and socket joint.
15. The toys of claim 12 wherein said elements comprise housings formed of magnetic material and including means for securing said permanent magnet within said housing.
16. The toys of claim 15 wherein said housings are generally hollow and cylindrical having an open end and a closed end provided with a central aperture therein, said permanent magnet is annular and recessed in said open end of said housing, a fastener engages said permanent magnet and extends through said permanent mag net and said apertures, the terminal ball of a swivel chain is lodged within said fastener, and said swivel chain is connected to said toy.
17. The coupling means of claim 16 wherein said fastener comprises a flange engaging the face surface of said permanent magnet, a generally tubular portion integral with said flange portion and extending through said permanent magnet and said aperture and having a head end for retaining the terminal ball of said swivel chain, side portions of said tubular portion being formed to provide flexible snap-retainer means for preventing withdrawal of said fastener through said aperture and said permanent magnet.
18. A Wheeled toy having attached thereto a magnetic coupler comprising a hollow cylindrical housing having an open end and a closed end provided with a central aperture therein, an annular permanent magnet recessed in said open end of said housing, a fastener engaging said permanent magnet and extending through said permanent magnet and said aperture, and a swivel chain connected to said fastener and to said toy so that said coupler is flexibly and rotatably dependent from said toy.
19. A pair of couplers, each having the structure specified in claim 18 and each connected to the end of a respective one of a pair of wheeled toys at points above the bottoms of said toys whereby said elements in uncoupled condition rest obliquely against said ends of said toys so that when said toys are moved near each other in a coupling orientation, each one of said couplers is moved so as to unite with the other one of said couplers to connect said toys.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,226,287 12/ 1940 Miller 46241 X 2,500,180 3/1950 Hubbell 46-241 X 2,623,774 12/1952 Hubbard.
3,041,697 7/1962 Budreck 24-201 RICHARD C. PINKHAM, Primary Examiner.
DELBERT B. LOWE, R. F. CUTTING,