US 3367284 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. 6, 1968 F. A. LUNZER TRACK INTERSECTION UNIT 3 Sheets-Sheet l Filed June 28, 1966 INVENTOR.
Feb. 6, 1968 F. A. LUNZER TRACK INTERSECTION UNIT 5 SheetsSheet 2 Filed June 28, 1966 Feb. 6, 1968 F. A. LUNZER 3,367,284
TRACK INTERSECTION UNIT Filed June 28, 1966 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 v l'lLf/ fi FIG. 6 Z4 Z5 INVENTOR.
\ ,1 /Z% fa -0:0: /fl/1/Z[/Q United States Patent 6 3,367,284 TRACK INTERSECTION UNIT Frederic A. Lunzer, New York, N.Y., assignor to Ideal Toy Corporation, New York, N.Y., a corporation of New York Filed June 28, 1966, Ser. No. 561,222 8 Claims. (Cl. 104-60) The present invention relates generally to tracks for toy vehicles, and more particularly to a track intersection unit for controlling vehicle movement about the track.
Toy vehicles, usually powered by battery, are adapted to operate over predetermined courses or tracks and represent a significant toy product for many toy manufacturers. Usually, the track has a guide groove therein to accommodate a guide pin depending from the vehicle; and in this way, the vehicle is made to follow the curves of the track and otherwise generally perform on the track. It is highly desirable to avoid repetitious vehicle movement about the track as this becomes monotonous to the child and detracts from the play value of the product. To this end, numerous accessories for tracks are available, including track intersection units which generally alternate vehicle movement along one or the other of two possible paths. While these intersecting units provide some diversion in the operation and performance of the vehicles upon the track, more than merely changing the direction of movement of a vehicle crossing a track intersection is desirable in order to significantly enhance the play value of the product.
Broadly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a track intersection unit exceeding the performance of known units and otherwise generally overcoming the limited performance and other shortcomings of prior art units. Specifically, it is an object to provide a track intersection unit adapted to be economically manufactured by mass production techniques and having a significant influence on vehicle movement about the track.
A track intersection unit demonstrating objects and advantages of the present invention includes at least one pair of crossing guide grooves therein for accommodating the depending guide pins of plural vehicles operating on the track. Slidably disposed beneath the track in alignment with the guide grooves are operating members of the unit which function to control vehicle movement across the unit. The control exercised is such as to alternately temporarily restrain and release vehicles for move ment and is provided automatically from the interaction of the vehicles entering upon the track unit with the operating members, all to the end of greatly diversifying the operation and performance of the vehicles upon the track.
The above brief description, as well as further objects, features and advantages of the present invention, will be more fully appreciated by reference to the following detailed description of a presently preferred, but nonetheless 1llustrative embodiment in accordance with the present invention, when taken in conjunction with the accompanymg drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a toy track arrangement having track intersection units according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a partial bottom plan view of one of the units, on an enlarged scale, and with portions broken away to better illustrate the construction thereof;
FIG. 3 is a partial enlarged elevational view, taken in section along line 3--3 of FIG. 2 and approximately centrally of one guide groove of the unit wherein one toy vehicle is shown in a position making initial contact with the operating parts of the track intersection unit and another toy vehcle is shown restrained against movement in another intersecting guide groove of the unit;
FIG. 3A is an enlarged sectional view similar to FIG. 3, but showing a subsequent position of movement of said one toy vehicle;
FIG. 4 is also an enlarged sectional view similar to FIG. 3, but showing a subsequent position of movement of said one toy vehicle;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the operating parts of the track intersection unit in their normally occupied positions beneath the unit, the portion of the unit overlying such operating parts being omitted;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged plan view of the track intersection unit similar to FIG. 2, but showing the positions of movement of the operating parts thereof in full line and phantom line perspective which are produced by the vehicle movement depicted in FIGS. 3, 3A and 4',
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6, but showing further positions of movement of the operating parts thereof; and
FIG. 8 is a detailed sectional view, taken in section on line 88 of FIG. 3A, illustrating a depending camming surface on the underside of the track intersection unit.
Reference is now made to the drawings, and in particular to FIG. 1 wherein there is shown an exemplary toy track generally designated 10 having several identically constructed track intersection units 12 incorporated therein. Track 10 is conventionally formed as an elongated continuous body having a guide groobe 10b appropriately formed therein. Further, and as is best seen in FIGS. 3, 4, the track guide groove 10b in practice accommodates a guide, usually a pin, depending from the front end of the chassis of toy vehicles 16 disposed for movement on the track 10, several of such vehicles being ordinarily used on the track 10. To facilitate this description, two of the vehicles 16 and the parts thereof are individually designated by the subscripts a and b. As will be described in greater detail herein, each track intersection unit 12 is effective to provide alternate feed of the toy vehicles 16 across the intersecting guide grooves thereof. For example, each unit functions to permit vehicle 16a to move across first in the direction A and then the vehicle 16b in a transverse direction B, and in this manner substantially increases the play value of the track 10.
More particularly, assuming that the toy vehicle 16a initially enters upon the track intersection unit 12, this vehicle is temporarily restrained from movement across the unit and remains in this condition until release is effectuated by the entry of the vehicle 16b upon the track intersection unit 12 in the transverse direction B. That is, the vehicle 16b in entering upon the unit 12 is eifective to actuate certain moving parts of the track intersection 12 which results in the release of vehicle 16a and then is itself restrained from continued movement in the direction B. Ultimately, however, the released vehicle completes movement through the closed loop of the track 10 and again enters upon track intersection 12 in the direction A and, in this instance, causes the release of the vehicle 16b. At this time, the vehicle 16a is again restrained from continued movement in the direction A. Thus, the teach intersection 12 is effective to provide alternate movement of the vehicle 1611,17 across the intersecting guide grooves by alternately restraining and releasing the vehicles for movement.
Each track intersection unit 12, in a preferred embodiment as illustrated herein, is a generally rectangular plastic article of manufacture having a body 12a which, as best shown in FIG. 2, has molded intersecting channels 13 dependent from the underside of the body. The channels 13 define intersecting guide grooves 121; which function as continuations of the track guide grooves 10b. However, each molded channel 13 is not a continuous structure, having a medial section 13a (best seen in FIGS. 3, 4), a marginal sectional 13b starting at an edge of the unit 12, and a disconnected intermediate section 130 between the sections 13a,b. The body 12a has slots between these channel sections so that the guide grooves 12b are continuous across each unit 12. Disposed beneath the grooves 12b are coordinating members 18 and 20 which function to provide the vehicle alternate feed movement previously described.
Having reference generally to the drawings, and in particular to FIG. 5 thereof, it will be seen that member 18 which, preferably is a molded plastic article of manufacture, has a comparatively thin, flat body 18a which is formed with a pair of intersecting arms 18b and 18c. Arm 18b is the longer arm and is oriented, with respect to the reference directions of FIG. 1, in the direction B, whereas the shorter arm 180 is oriented in the transverse direction A. Both the arms 18b and 180 extend directly beneath the intersecting guide grooves 12b.
Member 20 is also preferably an injection molded structure having a comparatively thin, flat body 20a formed with two crossing arms 20b and 200, of which arm 20b is the longer and is oriented in alignment with one track guide groove in the direction A, and the other shorter arm 20c is aligned with the other guide groove in the direction B. Member 18 is arranged adjacent the unit body 12:: with member 20 immediately beneath it, and both these members, as best shown in FIGS. 2, 3, are retained within a housing 22 appropriately secured, as by screws 24, to the underside of the unit body 12a.
Each member 18, 20 is provided with triangular-shaped configurations on the ends of the intersecting arms thereof which project into the guide grooves 12b, and it is the interaction of these configurations which provides the vehicle alternate feed movement across the unit 12. More particularly, these configurations on the larger member arms 18b, 20b are contact means, individually and collectively designated 26. .By virtue of their position on the end of the longer arms, the contacts 26 are initially contacted by the depending guide pins of the vehicles which enter upon the track intersection unit 12, regardless of whether the approach of the vehicle is in the direction A or in the direction B. That is, assuming that vehicle 16b enters upon the track unit 12 in the direction B, in accordance with the orientation of the members 18 and 20 as depicted in FIG. 5, contact of the depending guide pin 17b thereof is made with the contact means 26 on the end of the arm 18b shown in the lower right hand corner of FIG. 5. Likewise, when vehicle 16a enters upon the track unit 12 in the direction A, initialcontact is made by the guide pin 17a thereof with the contact means 26 on the other member arm 20b at the end thereof shown in the upper right hand corner of FIG. 5.
Spaced inwardly of the contact means 26 on the members 18, 20 are additional triangularly-shaped configurations provided at the ends of the shorter member arms, these configurations being individually and collectively designated 28 and functioning as obstruction means for temporarily restraining movement of the vehicles 16 along the track guide grooves 12b. By virtue of the location of the obstruction means 28 on the shorter member arms 18c, 20c, contact thereagainst by the vehicle guide pins 17a,b is possible only after contact has first been made with the outwardly disposed contact means 26. Openings 180 are provided in each of the arms 18b for the obstruction means 28 on the arms 206 to project into the track sorbed by the springs 30 while the member which is contacted yields in movement to the driving force of the contacting vehicle 16. To providefor this sliding movement, theme'mbers 18, 20 are provided with centrally located intersecting slots 32 which accommodate therein a projection 34 depending from a central location on the molded channel section 13a. Projection 36 on the members 18, 20 are engaged on either side by the open ends of the springs 30 which, at their closed ends, are appropriately secured to depending projections 40 molded on the underside of the unit body 120.
A further feature of the track unit 12, as best seen in FIGS. 3-4 and 8, consists of a camming surface 42 formed on each of the outwardly disposed edges of the side walls of the intermediate channel sections 130. In the at-rest position of the members 18, 20, each'contact means 26 thereon is seated against a camming surface 42. Thus, in response to movement of either of the members 18, 20 produced by driving contact being made by a vehicle depending guide pin against a contact means 26, the contact means 26 is cammed along the camming surface 42 and is thus displaced away from the unit 12 and out of the guide groove 12b thereof. This displacement is completed to the point where the contact means 26 is cammed clear of the vehicle depending guide pin such that the vehicle is then permitted to continue in movement and makes contact with the inwardly disposed obstruction means 28. As best been in FIG. 5, and more particularly in the upper right hand corner thereof, contact of the depending guide pin 16b against the obstruction means 28 on the arm does not similarly result in sliding movement of the member 18 yielding to this contact since the member 18 is prevented from partaking of this directional movement by the centrally disposed depending projection 34. The only way in which a depending guide pin can be released from any of the member obstruction means 28 is for the member to be actuated through move ment laterally of the track guide groove. That is, lateral movement of member 18 in the direction B and movement of the member 20 in the direction A.
With particular reference to FIGS. 3, 4 and 6, 7, let it be assumed that the starting condition of the track unit 12 and of the vehicles thereon is that in which the vehicle 1611 is temporarily restrained with its guide pin 17a against an obstruction 28 from movement across the track unit 12. Let it be further assumed that the toy vehicle 16b enters upon the track unit 12 in the direction B and thus the guide pin 17b thereof makes initial contact with the contact means 26 at the lower right hand end of the arm 18b of the member 18. The driving momentum of the vehicle 16b actuates the member 18 in the direction B in which the vehicle is traveling, having the effect of actuating the member 18 through a limited stroke C along the track guide groove 12b. It will be noted in FIG. 6 that the movement of the member 18 is against the opposing force of two springs 30 which mount the member 18, causing the open ends of each spring to widen. The distance traversed during the limited stroke C of the member 18 results in the obstruction means 28 on the arm 18c thereof, which was temporarily restraining the other toy vehicle 16a from movement, being displaced laterally out of the guide groove 12b thereby permitting continued movement of the vehicle 16a in the direction A. This release of the toy vehicle 16a is illustrated in FIG. 6 by the positions of movement of the guide pin 17a of this vehicle.
In addition to releasing the toy vehicle 16a, the limited stroke C in the member. 18 also results in the contact means 26 thereon being cammed free of contact of the guide pin 17b of the vehicle 16b, such that this toy vehicle moves on into contact with the obstruction means 28 on the arm 20c of the member 20. This position of vehicle 16b is shown in FIG. 4, and the succeeding positions of movement of this vehicle guide pin 17b shown in FIG. 6. Thus, vehicle 16b which entered upon the track unit 12 in the direction B and released the vehicle 16a for continued movement in the direction A is itself temporarily restrained from continued movement in the direction B. Ultimately, however, the toy vehicle 16a completes its movement about the closed loop of the track and again enters upon the track unit 12 in the direction A. At this time, and as clearly shown in FIG. 7, contact is made by the vehicle guide pin 1701 with the contact means 26 on the member arm 20b, and thus the member 20 is similarly actuated through a limited stroke C in the same manner as previously described in connection with the member 18. While partaking of this stroke, the transversely disposed arm 20c is laterally displaced out of the guide groove 12b thus releasing the guide pin 17b of vehicle 16b. Vehicle 16a meanwhile moves on to make contact with the obstruction means 28 on the member arm 18c and, as previously explained, is then itself temporarily restrained from continued movement along the guide groove 12b. The vehicles 1641,12 are thus effective when they enter upon the track unit 12 to cause release of a previously restrained toy vehicle and each is then restrained against movement and must await the return of the released or another vehicle to enter upon the track unit 12 in a transverse direction.
From the foregoing description it should be readily appreciated that after a contact means 26 is cammed out of contact with the depending guide pins 17 that the springs 3t} are effective to restore the at-rest positions to the members 18, 20. Further, since opposite ends of each of the arms of the members 18, 20 are identically constructed, the herein described functioning of these memhers is not dependent upon the particular direction in which the vehicle operates in the guide grooves, but such functioning is achieved whether the toy vehicles 16 operate in the directions A, B or in opposite directions. In other respects as well, a latitude of modification, change and substitution is intended in the foregoing disclosure and in some instances some features of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the spirit and scope of the invention herein.
What is claimed is:
1. A track intersection for toy vehicles of the type having a vehicle guide comprising an intersection member having first and second tracks crossing each other, said first track having a first guide groove for receiving the vehicle guide of a first vehicle and said second track having a second guide groove for receiving the vehicle guide of a second vehicle, first and second coordinating members slidably mounted on said intersection member, said first coordinating member including a first contact disposed along said first guide groove and adapted to be engaged by said first Vehicle and a first obstruction disposed along said second guide groove and adapted to block movement of said second vehicle along said second track, said second coordinating member including a second contact disposed along said second guide groove and adapted to be engaged by said second vehicle and a second obstruction disposed along said first guide groove and adapted to block movement of said first vehicle along said first track, said contacts and obstructions being constructed and arranged relative to said guide grooves such that engagement of said first contact by the first vehicle removes said first obstruction from the path of the second vehicle moving along the second track.
2. A track intersection as defined in claim 1 wherein each coordinating member is supported by resilient means in an at-rest position beneath said guide grooves and is movable through a limited stroke against the urgency of said resilient means, whereby the shock of the impact of a moving vehicle against the contact on said member is absorbed by said resilient means.
3. A track intersection as defined in claim 2 including depending camming means located on said intersection member in the path of movement of the contact of each coordinating member and efiective during said limited stroke thereof to disengage said contact from a vehicle guide, thereby permitting said vehicle to continue in movement and make contact with said obstruction of the other coordinating member.
4. A track intersection as defined in claim 3 wherein each contact is a triangular-shaped configuration having one side thereof which is adapted to contact said camming means on said intersection member inclined at an angle to cooperate with said camming means in causing movement of said contact out of said guide groove and thereby releasing a vehicle blocked by said contact during said stroke of the coordinating member.
5. A track intersection as defined in claim 4 wherein each coordinating member is formed as a comparatively thin body fabricated of a plastic material having suificient flexibility for being displaced out of the plane of said intersection member during camming of said con-tact out of said guide groove.
6. A toy track intersection for toy vehicles of the type having a vehicle guide comprising a body having at least one pair of crossing guide grooves therein for accommodating said vehicle guides, a pair of members and resilient means for slidably mounting the same on said body beneath said guide grooves, each member having an at-rest operative position with respect to said guide grooves and movable from said position through a limited operative stroke against the urgency of said resilient means, a pair of spaced first and second configurations on each member projected into said guide grooves, said first configurations of each member being located thereon so as to be contacted first by vehicles operating in said guide grooves and in response to such contact being actuated through said limited operative stroke during which said second configurations thereon are displaced from the guide grooves associated therewith, said first and second configurations of each member being alternately disposed in said respective guide grooves, whereby the limited stroke produced in a member by a vehicle operating in one guide groove is eifective to release a restrained vehicle for movement in the other guide groove to thereby alternately provide vehicle movement along one and then the other of said guide grooves of said track intersection.
7. A toy track intersection as defined in claim 6 including depending camming means located between said first and second configurations of said respective members and effective during each stroke of a member to disengage said first configuration thereon from a vehicle in contact therewith for permitting said vehicle to continue in movement and make contact with said second configuration of the other member.
8. A toy track intersection as defined in claim 7 wherein each first configuration of a member is of a triangular shape having one side thereof which is adapted to contact said camming means on said body inclined at an angle to cooperate with said camming means in causing movement of said configuration out of said guide groove and thereby releasing a vehicle in contact with said configuration during said stroke of the member.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2/1947 Fields 104-253 4/1953 Fields 246ll3