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Publication numberUS3425133 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 4, 1969
Filing dateApr 14, 1967
Priority dateApr 14, 1967
Publication numberUS 3425133 A, US 3425133A, US-A-3425133, US3425133 A, US3425133A
InventorsSmith Albert R
Original AssigneeSmith Albert R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adjustable grip-measuring bowling ball
US 3425133 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Feb. 4, 1969 A. R. SMITH 3,425,133

ADJUSTABLE GRIP-MEASURING BOWLING BALL Filed April 14. 1967 7 Sheet ATTORNEYS Feb. 4, 1969 A. R. SMITH ADJUSTABLE GRIP-MEASURING BOWLING BALL Sheet 2 of 2 Filed April 14, 1967 INVENTOR ALBERT R. SMITH ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,425,133 ADJUSTABLE GRIP-MEASURING BOWLING BALL Albert R. Smith, 5th St, Eau Gallie, Fla. 32935 Filed Apr. 14, 1967, Ser. No. 631,078 US. Cl. 33-174 1 Claim Int. Cl. G01b 1/00 ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A ball simulating a regulation bowling ball and having cavities which house thumb and finger receiving units, the latter units each including a sleeve of appropriate size to accept the thumb or finger, respectively, of the bowler, and each sleeve terminating at its uppermost point in a universal joint by which pitch and angle of pitch may be adjusted to suit the individual. Each cavity is completely closed by a cover plate except for a hole in each cover plate through which the finger or thumb is thrust into the adjustable sleeve, and the cover plates conform to the spherical surface of the ball at their respective locations, so that the ball may be tested under actual conditions after appropriate adjustments have been made.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention is related in general to devices for measuring the grip and preferred orientation and position of thumb and finger( s) as preferred by an individual for delivery of a bowling ball, and in particular is directed toward an adjustable bowling ball device which simulates quite closely the characteristics of a regulation bowling ball and which accordingly may be adjusted to meet the grip requirements of the individual bowler andsubsequently tested or used in actual play.

Prior art bowling ball simulating devices for use in measuring finger and thumb positions, and relative pitch and angle of pitch thereof, along with distance between thumb and middle finger (span of the bowling grip), which measurements are subsequently to be transferred to a regulation bowling ball for drilling and/ or boring thereof, have generally constituted mechanisms which are at once complex and delicate, requiring substantial machining and fabrication time as well as an inordinately large number of parts in assembling the structural configuration necessary for a single possibility of fit and a substantial inventory of parts for varying the number of possibilities of fit as .well as for accommodation of the physical sizes according to the individuals to be fitted.

In one prior art bowling ball device, for example, a pair of recesses are provided in the ball, the recesses oriented at right angles to one another and intersecting each other to a point of penetration beyond the center of the ball. Each recess accepts a thumb receiving unit or one or more finger receiving units, and suflicient extra space is provided within each recess to permit arcuate movement of each such unit, about a pivot point located at or near the bottom of the respective recess, through an angle substantially greater than that encompassed by the receiving unit area at the surface of the ball. Accordingly, a relatively large void exists at either side of a receiving unit, at which the recess is exposed, unless the unit is seated at one side or the other of its respective recess. The thumb and finger receiving units are arranged to pivot about perpendicular axes through the center of the ball, and when properly located for a particular individual being fitted, are clamped by means of pinch plates tightened by set screws. Special sets of thumb plug retainers are also provided, each having a passageway which is concentric with respect to the top cylindrical cross-section of the retainer but is eccentric with respect to the bottom cylindrical cross-section of the retainer. In other words, each thumb plug retainer is characterized by a passageway having a different pitch. Further such retainers must be provided if it is also desired to vary the angle of pitch, and with each change of pitch or angle of pitch a new retainer must be inserted. It will be observed that in addition to the disadvantages previously noted a substantial effort is required to eventually determine the desired pitch, angle of pitch, span, and other dimensions and measurements required to drill a regulation ball.

Moreover, it is apparent that a bowling ball measuring device of the type described above is completely unsuitable for testing the accuracy of the measurements and grip characteristics obtained, by use under actual playing conditions, i.e., by delivery of the ball on a regulation bowling alley by the bowler being fitted.

It is accordingly a principal object of the present invention to provide an adjustable bowling ball especially adapted for obtaining measurements of bowling grip to be used in custom drilling a regulation ball, and which is characterized by simplicity of structure and of use to obtain the desired measurements.

It is another object of the invention to provide an adjustable bowling ball which is perfectly suitable for use in actual play, and which accurately simulates the weight, balance and exterior surface shape of a regulation bowling ball.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, an adjustable bowling ball is provided with cavities for accepting thumb and finger receiving units, broadly similar to the prior art arrangement, but in which are utilized thumb and finger sleeves pivotally coupled in respective universal joints adjacent the surface of the ball relative to a respective hole into which the bowlers finger or thumb is inserted, as the case may be, such that the pitch and angle of pitch of the sleeve, relative to the axis of its respective hole, are readily variable according to the preference of the individual bowler. Means are provided for clamping the sleeve in the desired orientation and for adjusting the span between thumb hole and finger hole(s).

The adjustable ball permits any bowler to be fitted by use of different sizes and/or shapes of sleeves or grip holes, whereby to obtain the most desirable hole diameter and shape, as well as location relative to other grip holes, from the standpoint of the anatomy of the hand of the bowler whose measurements :are being taken. Since the angle of each hole is readily adjustable without need for replacement of parts, each bowler is rapidly fitted with a custom ball accurately reflecting his personal grip preferences. Moreover, weight and balance of the adjustable ball may be varied to simulate a regulation ball, and more importantly the surface of the adjustable ball conforms to that of the regulation ball, without any deformations or voids which might alter or affect the delivery and roll of the adjustable ball during actual play. Hence, the bowler may test his preferences as to pitch of thumb and fingers, angle of pitch, span, and so forth, by using the adjustable ball with the selected hole orientations and relative locations, on a conventional bowling alley.

In essence, the device which permits the hole angle to be changed may be loosened to the point at which moderate finger or thumb pressure is suflicient to move the hole insert or sleeve to any desired orientation. The user may therefore grip the ball, and by that act will cause the hole sleeves to adopt the angle and pitch characteristics of his preferred grip and style of delivery. When it is determined that the hole angles, directions and relative locations are as desired, the sleeves or inserts are clamped to preserve these characteristics and adjustments for future use, reference or final measurement. This, in effect, constitutes what may be designated a floating hole adjustment, in the sense that the hole inserts will inherently assume the best grip angles and provide the most natural grip when the fingers and thumb are inserted in the loosened sleeves.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The above and still further objects, features and attendant advantages of my invention will become apparent from a consideration of the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof, especially when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the adjustable bowling ball;

FIGURE 2 is a fragmentary sectional view of the thumb and finger receiving units and respective cavities, taken along the lines 2-2 of FIGURE 1;

FIGURE 3 is a partial sectional view of the thumb receiving unit and cavity taken along the lines 33 of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 4 is a fragmentary sectional view of the finger receiving units and associated cavity, taken along the lines 44 of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 5 is an exploded perspective view of the thumb receiving unit assembly;

FIGURE 6 is a plan view of a set of sleeves of ditfering internal diameter;

FIGURES 7 is a partially exploded perspective view of a finger receiving unit assembly; and

FIGURE 8 is a plan view of a set of finger receiving unit cover plates, showing the different locations of finger holes therein.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, wherein identical refer ence numerals are utilized to designate like components in the several figures, the preferred embodiment of the invention comprises a bowling ball 10 provided with a pair of cavities 12, 13 (FIGURE 2) having axes of symmetry 15, 16, respectively, angularly displaced relative to one another. The axis of symmetry of each cavity preferably intersects the center of the ball although this is not critical to the practice of our invention. The particular shape of the crosssection of each cavity taken in a plane normal to its axis of symmetry is likewise immaterial to the essence of the invention, although in the illustrated embodiment cavity 12 has a circular cross-section and cavity 13 a rectangular cross-section.

For the sake of clarity of description, cavity 12 will hereinafter be referred to as the thumb cavity and cavity 13 as the finger cavity. Each cavity is adapted to receive a respective cover plate whose exposed surface conforms to and follows the exterior surface shape of the ball 10 so that a smooth substantially continuous spherical contour is presented. To this end, cover plate 18 for thumb cavity 12 corresponds in its most general aspects to a slice taken through a chord in a plane perpendicular to cavity axis 15, and fits flush against the flat surface 20 surrounding the cavity, so that when fastened to the ball the cover plate completes the solid are which had been removed from the regulation ball during fabrication of the special fitting and demonstration ball described herein.

Plate 18 is provided with a centrally disposed substantially circular aperture 21, of one of the sizes of the standard bits normally employed to drill holes in the regulation ball when the bowlers grip measurements have been cornpleted. In this respect it will be understood that a plurality of cover plates 18 may be provided for use with a single fitting and demonstration ball, each plate having a hole of different diameter within a standard graduated range of values. Similarly, other components of an overall thumb or finger receiving unit, to be described presently, are provided in a corresponding range of sizes. Of course, the hole 21 in plate 18 may 'be large enough to accommodate the greatest expected size of thumb, with thumb sizes of individual bowlers taken into account .by use of an appropriately dimensioned ring 25 and sleeve 27 (graduated diameters b, c, d and e of which are shown in FIGURE 6), since the thickness of the plate is relatively small and produces little, if any, etfect on the blowers delivery irrespective of an exaggerated thumb opening.

Plate 18 is also provided with a generally circular recess or socket 29 coaxial with hole 21, penetrating from the flat surface of the plate to a point short of the curved plate surface. The wall surface 30 of socket 29 is curved in approximately concave fashion to form with the interior surface 32 of mating internal plate 33 an overall socket approximating a spherical cavity sector, within which ring 25, having a matching exterior curved surface, is free to assume any angular orientation relative to axis 15, limited only by restrictions on physical dimensions of the various components. Accordingly, plates 18 and 33 together with ring 25 form a universal joint, and more specifically a ball-and-socket joint, which is one of the most important features of the present invention as will presently become clear.

Ring 25 is internally threaded to accept the threaded end of sleeve 27 which, in turn, is adapted to receive the bowlers thumb within central opening 35. Preferably, sleeve 27 is chamfered at its upper inside wall, as shown at 37 in FIGURES 2 and 5, or is otherwise suitably machined to remove any sharp corners which might 0811186 discomfort or injury to the bowler being fitted. While sleeve 27 is illustrated as being of cylindrical tubular shape, it may in practice vary in shape. For example, the internal opening in the sleeve may taper in diameter from top to bottom, or the opening may be of elliptical (oval) crosssection rather than circular cross-section, or the sleeve may have other configurations as necessary or desirable to conform to any of a wide variety of thumb shapes.

In installing the overall thumb receiving unit within cavity 12, sleeve 27 is screwed into ring 25 and the ring inserted into socket or recess 29 of cover plate 18. The ring (and, of course, the sleeve attached thereto) is loosely retained in this positioning by retaining or captive internal plate 33 which is fastened to cover plate 18 by means of a plurality of adjusting screws 39. The registered holes in both plates, through which screws 39 are threaded into plate 33, are arranged on a circle of centers concentric with the axis 15 of cavity 12. The cover plate is then mounted on fiat surface 20 and firmly attached thereto by use of screws 40 which are threaded into hgles located on a circle of centers also concentric with axis 15 but of greater diameter than that on which the holes for screws 39 are disposed. Each of the screws is of the fiat-head type, and the respective holes are countersunk, to prevent any deviation in the spherical curvature of the ball.

The sleeve 27 may now be oriented at any angle relative to axis 15, within the physical limits imposed by the dimensions of the thumb receiving unit (e.g., the hole angle and diameter of plate 33) and the possibilities of orientation of the bowlers thumb, to accommodate the preferred relative position of the thumb in the grip desired for actual delivery of the ball. This adjustment, of course, will depend on the particular preference of the individual, and may be varied as often as desired by simply loosening screws 39 until unhindered movement of sleeve 27 is permitted, and when the desired orientation of the sleeve is determined, tightening screws 39 again to compress ring 25 between plates 18 and 33, thereby immobilizing the sleeve. It will thus be observed that by use of my novel universal joint, the pitch and angle of pitch of the thumbaccepting sleeve may be adjusted at will, using only a single sleeve as opposed to the usual prior art requirement of several sleeves or plugs or retainers whose bores are oriented at different pitch angles for a particular thumb size and which require separate successive installation and removal for each change in selection of preferred thumb grip orientation for a single individual. While no particular limitations are intended, I have found that an angular displacement (angle of pitch) of up to approximately 30 degrees in any direction relative to axis 15 is suitable to accommodate the fitting of the thumb hole for a custom bowling bowl for almost any individual.

The finger receiving units 45 and 46 (best shown in FIGURES 2, 4 and 7) are implemented in much the same fashion as that described above with respect to the thumb receiving unit. It will be recognized, of course, that only one finger receiving unit may be employed, if that is the preference of a particular bowler. In the usual case, however, a pair of such units will be used, as shown. The difference between the thumb and finger units and the cavities receiving those units will be apparent from a consideration of the drawings along with some additional description.

Unlike cavity 12, cavity 13 is rectangular in cross-section (although, again, this is not critical). Accordingly, to reduce the area required to be covered by the finger unit cover plates 48, 49, only a rectangular shaped piece is taken from the bowling bowl to accommodate the plates (i.e., rather than a circular slice as in the case of the thumb cavity opening).

Each finger receiving unit includes a cover plate, a threaded ring 53, a ring retaining or captive plate 52, and a finger-accepting sleeve 55, similar in practically every respect to the thumb receiving unit. Flat head screws and holes therefor are also provided, to permit fastening of the cover plate to the ball and retention of the internal or captive plate .by the cover plate. Again a ball-andsocket type universal joint is provided to permit adjustment of pitch and angle of pitch of each finger hole, in the same manner as the thumb unit. I

Unlike the thumb cover plate, however, the finger cover plates 48, 49 are provided in a series having finger-accepting holes of incrementally differing longitudinal locations, as shown in FIGURE 8. Mating retainer plates 52 are also provided, so that the location of the finger sleeves relative to the thumb sleeve (and to each other) may be varied as desired, to provide an adjustable span dimension. In practice, the proper finger hole location for a particular bowler is usually found very quickly, requiring only temporary placement of finger cover plates in a trial and error procedure, since the span of the grip for any individual is usually readily discernible without the elaborate measurements and tests required for the other characteristics.

Once the thumb and finger receiving units have been located and fixed, the measurements and relative positions may rapidly be transferred to the regulation bowling ball for custom drilling according to the hole sizes, shapes, locations and angles preferred by the individual. To indicate even more precisely that the correct measurements have indeed been taken, the demonstration bowling ball in accordance with the present invention may 'be tested on a bowling alley in a practice game or an actual game. This permits each individual to assure himself that his grip is comfortable and correct in every phase of his delivery of the ball. The feature of capability of testing the fitting and demonstration ball under actual conditions is a substantial advance over adjustable bowling balls of the prior art wherein, although such testing is suggested, the character and structure of the balls have actually rendered it virtually impossible to obtain the true feeling and roll of a regulation ball.

The adjustable bowling ball of the present invention may be adjusted in weight and 'balance to simulate a conventional 'ball, by such means as selection of material, mass and configuration of the receiving units by use of known principles to produce a center of mass within each cavity simulating the center of mass for a perfectly symmetrical ball of uniform characteristics throughout. Alternatively each cavity may be filled or partially filled with a dense mass to simulate the proper weight and balance.

While I have disclosed a preferred embodiment of my invention, it will be apparent that variations in the specific details of construction which have been illustrated and described may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

I claim:

1. An adjustable bowling ball, comprising a simulated bowling ball, a first cavity therein, a unit adapted to receive the thumb of the user of said ball, said first cavity having dimensions sufficient to accept said unit; said thumb receiving unit including a plate having a hole therein for communicating between the exterior of said ball and said cavity, means for fastening said plate to said ball to cover said cavity except in the region of said hole, said plate conforming to the surface contour of said ball, a sleeve having a passageway extending therein, means pivotally coupling said sleeve at one of its ends only in a universal joint, said end disposed immediately beneath said hole in said plate, with the opening of said passageway substantially concentric with the axis of said hole and with said sleeve extending freely into said cavity, whereby said sleeve is pivotal relative to and about the axis of said hole from a point within the uppermost region of said cavity relative to the surface of said ball, and means for retaining said sleeve in a desired orientation relative to said hole axis; another cavity displaced from said first cavity by less than the span of the users grip between thumb and a finger, and at least one unit adapted to receive a finger of the user and to be accepted within said another cavity; said finger receiving unit conforming, with respect to said another cavity, to said thumb receiving unit relative to said first cavity; said universal joint coupling means of each of said thumb receiving unit and finger receiving unit comprising a ring arranged and adapted to receive a portion of said sleeve in fastened relationship therewith, said ring having a smoothly curved outer surface, a further plate forming with said cover plate a socket substantially matching the smoothly curved surface of said ring, said retaining means fastening said plates together for holding said ring captive in said socket, immobile when in a tightened condition and swivelable when in a loosened condition; and wherein is provided a set of cover plates for said at least one finger receiving unit, each of the plates of said set having its hole communicating between the exterior of the ball and the finger receiving unit cavity at a distinct and different position therein.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,693,034 11/1954 Watson 33174 2,709,853 6/1955 Rassner 33174 3,273,250 9/1966 Egger 33174 SAMUEL S. MATTHEWS, Primary Examiner.

U.S. Cl. X.R, 27364

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2693034 *Aug 18, 1950Nov 2, 1954Brunswick Balke Collender CoBowling ball grip device
US2709853 *Jul 1, 1952Jun 7, 1955Louis RassnerHand measuring bowling ball
US3273250 *Jul 27, 1961Sep 20, 1966Egger Edwin FApparatus for making bowling balls
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7220186 *Jan 10, 2005May 22, 2007Burnham Steven MBowling ball insert providing finger tip gripping
U.S. Classification33/510, 473/130, 473/127
International ClassificationA63B37/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B37/0002
European ClassificationA63B37/00B2