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Publication numberUS3613045 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 12, 1971
Filing dateNov 26, 1969
Priority dateNov 26, 1969
Publication numberUS 3613045 A, US 3613045A, US-A-3613045, US3613045 A, US3613045A
InventorsContratto James, Routh Larry L
Original AssigneeUs Industries Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adapter for a power distribution system
US 3613045 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventors Larry L. Routh Castro Valley; James Contratto, Livermore, both of Calif. [211 App]. No. 880,335 [22] Filed Nov. 26, 1969 [45] Patented Oct. 12, 1971 [73] Assignee U.S. Industries, Inc.

New York, NY.

[54] ADAPTER FOR A POWER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM 21 Claims, 10 Drawing Figs.

[52] U.S. Cl 339/21 R, 339/22 B [51] Int. Cl H0lr 9/00 [50] Field ofSearch 339/14, 20-24, 119

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,496,518 2/1970 Neumann et al 339/21 3,503,032 3/1970 Routh et al. 339/14 Primary Examiner-Marvin A. Champion Assistant Examiner-Robert A. l-lafer Attorney.loseph B. Gardner ABSTRACT: A male adapter or plug for connecting an electric fixture to a power distribution system of the type providing a substantially continuous convenience outlet enabling adapters to be connected thereto at substantially any selected location along the system. The system includes one or more track components that provide such convenience outlet each of which is equipped with a conductor assembly having a plurality of pairs of conductors extending therealong in insulated relation one from the others. The adapter is operative to mechanically secure an electric fixture to the track component and to electrically connect such fixture selectively to one or another of the pairs of conductors. For this purpose, the adapter comprises support structure releasably interconnectable with the track component, a plurality of pairs of contacts selectively moveable between an inner retracted neutral position and outer extended positions for respective engagement with the pairs of conductors, selector structure movable from a neutral position into one or another of a plurality of operative positions to displace one or another of the pairs of contacts selectively into their outer extended positions, and polarization means for enforcing a predetermined relative orientation upon the track component and adapter so as to relate the operative positions of the selector structure to the respective pairs of conductors provided by the track component.

PAIENTEUucI 12 Ian SHEET 2 [IF 3 ADAPTER FOR A POWER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM This invention relates to a power distribution system and, more particularly, to an adapter for mechanically securing an electric fixture to the track component of such power distribution system and for electrically connecting the fixture to one or another of a plurality of circuits provided by the system and track component thereof.

As explained in the copending US. Pat. application of Larry L. Routh entitled Power Distribution System, Ser. No. 696,655, filed Jan. 4, 1968, the location of convenience outlets, junction boxes, and other fixed points of connection within an electric power distribution system is most often a compromise with the various locations being selected on the basis of custom or anticipation of the use expected for the building space containing the distribution system. This is particularly unsatisfactory especially in commercial and industrial buildings since the use of any particular space therein is not necessarily static, and any change in use may require relocation of the various outlets and other points of connection. In this respect, the divider walls or partitions in such buildings may be changed bodily, and modern buildings are designed so as to afiord ready change of such divider walls from one location to another so as to provide considerable versatility in the use of the building space. Also, in many special environments such as museums and art galleries in which exhibits are changed periodically, and such as display windows, merchandise showrooms, restaurants, and other public spaces where regular or periodic alteration is intended, a readily changeable lighting placement is advantageous.

In view of this, power distribution systems have been proposed heretofore which are intended to afford a degree of flexibility as respects the location at which light and other electrically operated fixtures or devices may be connected thereto, and one such system is disclosed in the aforesaid US. Pat. application, Ser. No. 695,655. Such system includes one or more track components that provide a substantially continuous open-mouthed chamber therealong defining a convenience outlet enabling electric plugs or adapters to be connected thereto at substantially any selected location; and a typical plug or adapter enabling interconnection of electric fixtures to such distribution system is disclosed in the copending US. Pat. application of Larry L. Routh and James Contratto entitled adapter for Electrical Power Distribution Track" Ser. No. 695,597, filed Jan. 4, I968.

The present invention is an improvement over the adapter disclosed in such copending application Ser. No. 695,597 and has for its objects, among others, the provision of an adapter having a casing formed of insulating material so as to protect the user thereof from electric shocks, but at the same time afford a means for grounding any fixture associated with the adapter to the track component; an adapter making a mechanical connection with the track component to prevent inadvertant loosening which might cause an overhead fixture associated with the adapter to drop free from the track component and injure anyone therebelow; an adapter having polarizing means such that the adapter can be connected with the track components in only one predetermined relative orientation; and an adapter that provides selective connection of any lighting or other fixture associated therewith to one or another of a plurality of circuits carried by the track component. Additional objects and advantages of the invention, especially as concerns particular features and characteristics thereof, will become apparent as the specification develops.

A power distribution system and adapter embodying the present invention may include one or more elongated, longitudinally extending track components connected one with another in a succession thereof. Each of the track components is relatively rigid and is intended to be supported along a ceiling or other building wall, and it is provided with a longitudinally extending open-mouthed chamber defining a substantially endless convenience outlet equipped therealong with a conductor assembly having a plurality of pairs of circuit-forming conductors insulated one from another. The adapter has an elongated casing at least a portion of which is insertable into the track chamber afier which the adapter is mechanically secured to the track component by support structure carried by the casing and selectively movable with respect thereto between a retracted position in which the casing can be inserted into and withdrawn from the chamber and an extended position interlockingly engaging the track component.

The adapter is also provided with a plurality of pairs of contacts mounted within the casing and movable with respect thereto between inner retracted neutral positions and outer extended operative positions for respective engagement with the conductors carried by the track component so as to electrically connect a fixture associated with the adapter to one of the electric circuits. The particular circuit chosen is determined by selector structure adjustably carried by the casing for movement with respect thereto from a neutral position in which none of the contracts are projected outwardly into their extended position into one or another of a plurality of operative positions so as to displace selectively one or another of the pairs of contacts into their outer conductor-engaging extended positions. The adapter also grounds any such electric fixture to the track component, thereby protecting the system, adapter and fixture in the event of short circuiting.

An embodiment of the invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. I is a broken perspective view illustrating a portion of a conductor-equipped track component having an adapter secured thereto and the selector structure of the adapter located in the second of the two operative positions thereof;

FIG. 2 is a broken vertical sectional view taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view taken along line 3--3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a broken longitudinal sectional view taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a broken horizontal sectional view taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a transverse sectional view taken along the line 6- 6 of FIG. 5 illustrating one pair of contacts in their extended operative positions;

FIG. 7 is a transverse sectional view taken along the line 7- 7 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a broken vertical sectional view taken along the line 8-8 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a broken'horizontal sectional view similar to that of FIG. 5 but illustrating the selector structure in its alternate operative position; and

FIG. 10 is a transverse sectional view generally similar to that of FIG. 6 but showing the selector structure in the altemate operative position thereof illustrated in FIG. 9 in which another contact pair is in its outer extended operative position.

The power distribution system partially illustrated in FIG. 1 may include a plurality of interconnected track components 10, only one of which is shown. One or more adapters II are releasably connectable with the track component 10, and each such adapter is usually associated with an electric fixture or appliance such as an incandescent lighting fixture (not shown). The track component 10 and adapter II are polarized so as to cause each adapter to have a predetermined orientation with respect to an associated track component, thereby resulting in particular polarities to the observed in interconnecting the same. The particular polarization means employed will be described in detail later, and at this point it may be observed that apart from such polarization means the track component 10 is generally symmetrical about a vertical center line therethrough; and in view of such general symmetry, the same numerals are employed to identify the oppositely positioned counterpart elements except that the suffixes a" and b" are added for purposes of differentiation therebetween.

Accordingly, and referring to FIGS. 2 and 3 in particular, the track component 10 is seen to include a pair of longitudinally extending and transversely spaced sidewalls 12a and 12b formed integrally with a longitudinally extending web 14 that is transversely disposed and projects between the sidewalls intermediate the top and bottom thereof. Adjacent their upper ends, the sidewalls 12 are turned inwardly to define flanges 15a and 15b that are used in securing the track disclosed in detail in copending US. Pat. application Ser. No.

780,840, entitled Splice Box for a Power Distribution System" filed contemporaneously herewith.

The track component is provided with a chamber or r receptacle 16 in underlying relation with the web 14, and such receptacle or chamber defines a longitudinally extending convenience outlet adapted to receive one or more of the adapters 11 therein. The chamber 16 adjacent its upper end in underlying relation with the web 14 is provided with a conductor assembly denoted in general with the numeral 17. The conductor assembly 17 includes an elongated insulator or insulated holder 18 having a web 20 of substantially the same general configuration as that of the track web 14 so as to be able to closely underlie the same, as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. Therefore, the web 20 is also provided with downwardly inclined segments 21a and 21b respectively corresponding to the downwardly and outwardly inclined segments 22a and 22b of the track web E4.

The insulator I8 is provided adjacent the lower outer ends of the inclined sections 21a and 21b with longitudinally extending channelor slot-forming sockets 24a and 24b respectively having conductors 25 and 26 mounted therein. Adjacent the upper end of the inclined section 21a at its mergence with the horizontal web section another longitudinally extending channelor slot-forming socket 27 is provided and has a conductor 28 mounted therein. Each of the conductorequipped slots 24 and 27 is provided with a restricted mouth confining the associated conductor therein and adapted to pass therethrough one of the contacts of the adapter 1 1, as will be explained hereinafter. The conductors 25, 26 and 28 may be conventional copper wires (12 gauge, for example), and they are effectively constrained against longitudinal displacements with respect to the insulator 18 by the frictional grip of the respective sockets within which they are confined, thereby eliminating the use of collars crimped about the conductors as explained in the aforementioned pending US. Pat. application j Ser. No. 695,655.

The insulator 18 is sufficiently rigid to be substantially selfsubstaining and maintain the conductors in the space apart relationship shown and to confine the same within the slots or channels therefor. The insulator 18 is also equipped with depending legs 30a and 30b respectively extending downwardly substantially parallel with the respectively facing shoulders.

31a and 31b. The legs 30 generally maintain the conductor assembly 17 in the position or orientation shown but in the absence of the adapter 11, the conductor assembly is free to move downwardly relative to the track 10 until the lower extremities of the legs 30 abut the inwardly turned flanges 32. Such relative dimensions of the legs 30 and spacing between the shoulders 31 and flanges 32 enables the conductor assembly 17 to fit rather loosely within the chamber 16 so that it is freely movable with respect thereto in longitudinal directions, thereby facilitating incorporation of the conductor assembly 17 within the track l0.

The receptacle or chamber 16 defining the longitudinally extending convenience outlet of the track component 10 is provided with polarization means, as mentioned hereinbefore, which includes as an element thereof the asymmetry of the horizontal section of the insulator web 20 resulting from the presence of the slot component or socket 27 at one edge thereof but no corresponding component at its opposite edge; and that also includes as another element thereof an upwardly projecting rib or lip 34 along the inner edge of the flange 32b. Such components of the polarization means cooperate with the complementary components provided by the adapter 11, as will be described in detail hereinafter.

The conductor assembly 17 provides a plurality of circuits or pairs of conductors defining the same, and in the particular distribution system being considered there are two such circuits and, therefore, two pairs of conductors defining the same. In more particular terms, the conductor 26 is common to each of the two circuits and conductor pairs and may be considered the neutral conductor. The conductors 25 and 28 are selectively associated with the neutral conductor 26, and the adapter 11 in the condition thereof illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 6 has contacts thereof connected with the circuit defined by the conductors 26 and 28, and the adapter in the condition thereof illustrated in FIG. 10 has contacts thereof connected with the circuit defined by the conductors 26 and 25. As is well known, in the usual distribution system the potential defined between the neutral conductor 26 and either of the conductors 25 and 28 is of the order of l 10 volts AC, and the potential across the conductors 25 and 28 (which potential is not ordinarily used) is of the order of 220 volts AC.

The adapter 11, as shown best in FIGS. 1 and 4, includes an elongated casing having vertically stepped sections 35 and 36 the first of which projects downwardly below the lower extremity of the section 36 which has a greater longitudinal dimension than the section 35. The casing considered as a whole has an upper end portion insertable into the chamber 16 defined by the track component 10, and the casing is adapted to be releasably secured to the track component by support structure associated with the casing section 35.

In this respect, such support structure includes a relatively flat plate 37 extending generally in longitudinal directions along the bottom wall 38 of the casing section 35, and the plate is supported intermediate its ends for pivotal displacements between the full line and broken line positions illustrated in FIG. 5 which respectively correspond to the aforementioned lock and release positions. Such pivotal movement of the plate '38 is afforded by the mounting therefor which includes a hollow sleeve or tube 40 of cylindrical configuration extending upwardly through an opening provided therefor in the bottom wall 38. The plate 37 has a central opening passing the sleeve 40 therethrough, and the plate is freely rotatable with respect thereto. The sleeve 40 is confined in position shown by a pair of nuts 41 and 42 respectively located on the inner and outer sides of the bottom wall 38 and threadedly engaging the sleeve 40. The plate 37 is equipped with a handle 44 extending longitudinally from one end thereof through an opening 45 provided therefor in an end wall 46 of the casing sections 35.

The plate 37 adjacent the opposite ends thereof is equipped with upwardly extending legs 47 and 48 disposed along opposite sides of the plate and turned laterally outwardly at their upper ends to provide locking ears 50 and 51 respectively. As is most evident in FIGS. 2 and 4, the cars 50 and 51 are located at slightly different elevations so as to respectively cooperate with the track flanges 32a and 32b and, more particularly, so as to accommodate the lip 34 provided along the upper edge of the track flange 32b. Therefore, the car 51 has a slightly higher elevation than the ear 50, and they respectively extend through slots or openings 52 and 54 formed in the up wardly extending sidewall 55 and 56 of the casing section 35. At their outer corner portions, the ears 50 and 51 are respectively turned downwardly to provide sharp knifelike edges 57 and 58 that are intended to scratch through any anodizing or other surface coating on the track component 10 along the flanges 32a and lip 34 of the flange 32b so as to make a good electric connection therewith which is used in grounding any electric fixture attached by the sleeve 40 to the track component. Evidently, then, the sleeve 40 and plate 37 together with the legs 47 and 48 and ears 50 and 51 are metallic conductors, and an electric connection is defined between the plate and sleeve in any suitable manner such as via the nut 41.

It will be appreciated that when the plate 37 is in the alternate position thereof shown by broken lines in FIG. 5, the cars 50 and 51 are retracted inwardly to an extent sufficient to free the same from the underlying flanges 32a and 32b, thereby enabling the adapter 1 l to be inserted into the chambers 16 and removed therefrom. When the ears 50 and 51 are in their extended positions, they establish an electric connection with the track component as previously explained, and they also mechanically secure the adapter and any electric fix ture attached to it, to the track component and thereby support the adapter and such fixture at a selected location along the track. Thus, the plate 37, legs 47 and 48 thereof, and the ears 50 and 51 are sufficiently stiff to afford an excellent support for the adapter and fixture carried thereby when interlockingly engaging the track flanges 32, as shown in the drawings.

The casing section 36 is provided with a compartment 60 having a plurality of contacts mounted therein, there being three such contacts in the particular embodiment of the invention being considered and they are respectively denoted with the numerals 61, 62 and 64 as shown best in FIGS. 5, 6 and 10. These contacts are adapted to extend outwardly through openings provided therefor in the casing section 36 so as to engage the conductors 25 and 26 and 28 as seen in FIGS. 6 and 10. The contacts 61 is adapted to engage the neutral conductor 26 and, therefore, is common to the two circuits defined by all of the contacts so that one such circuit is formed by the paired contacts 61 and 64, as shown in FIG. 6, and the other such circuit is formed by the paired contacts 61 and 62, as shown in FIG. 10. All of the contacts are adapted to be positioned concurrently in the inner retracted positions thereof (not shown) in which they are located essentially within the dimensional confines of the casing section 36 whereupon the adapter 11 is free to be inserted into the track cavity 16 and withdrawn therefrom.

Further respecting the contact 61, 62 and 64 and the function thereof, it will be noted in FIG. 5 that such contacts are respectively equipped with (i.e., formed integrally therewith in the embodiment being considered) longitudinally elongated spring legs 65, 66 and 67 which are disposed entirely within the contact compartment 60 and extend along the length thereof. The resilient leg 60 is disposed along the aforementioned sidewalls 56 of the adapter and at its rear end it is turned laterally inwardly to form a connector 68 (FIGS. 5 and 7) that is dished downwardly as shown at 70 to provide a generally semicyclindrical recess adapted to seat the bared end portion of a lead wire 71 therealong. The inner extremity of such lead wire 71 is bent downwardly for insertion into an opening defined therefor by a boss 72 forming a part of the casing section 36. The lead wire 71 extends rearwardly from the connector 70 into the casing section 35 and outwardly therefrom through the hollow interior of the sleeve 40 for connection to an electric fixture attached thereto.

Referring to FIG. 8, it will be noted that the connector 68 and concave protuberance 70 formed therealong overlies a pair of supports 74 and 75 which form the lower jaw of a clamp structure used to mechanically constrain the lead wire 71 in the position shown and to assure a good electric connection thereof with the connector 68. Accordingly, the connector 68 rests upon the jaw supports 74 and 75 and is constrained thereby against downward movement toward the bottom wall of the casing section 36. The upper jaw of the clamp structure is formed by a serated area 76 on the cover 77 of the casing. The cover 77 is removably secured to the casing sections 35 and 36 by a plurality of longitudinally spaced screws 78, as shown most clearly in FIG. 4. Whenever the cover is drawn downwardly and into tight juxtaposition with the casing sections, the wire 71 is clamped between the serated jaw 76 and connector 68 of the contact leg 65, which connector is held finnly in position by the lower clamping jaw defined by the support 74 and 75.

The resilient leg 66 of the contact 62 also extends rearwardly generally along the sidewall 55 of the adapter casing, and the extent to which the leg is biased inwardly from the wall 55 when not displaced outwardly theretoward by the selector structure to be described hereinafter is clearly evident in FIG. 5 which also shows that the contact 62 is entirely within the outer dimensional limits of the adapter when retracted so as not to interfere with movement thereof into and out of the chamber 16. At its inner end, the leg 66 is turned laterally inwardly to provide a connector 79 provided with a convex intermediate portion 80 seating a lead wire 81 therein that is turned downwardly so as to extend into a recess provided therefor by a boss 82. The connector 79 is supported by spaced-apart supports 84 and 85 forming the lower jaw of a clamp the upper jaw of which is defined by serated area 86 along the under surface of the cover 77, as heretofore explained. 4

It will be noted in FIG. 7 that the leg 67 of the intermediate contact 64 is turned laterally to form a connector 87 that un derlies the connector 79 so as to be electrically connected therewith. Accordingly, both the contacts 62 and 64 are electrically connected to each other and, consequently, to the lead wire 81 from any electric fixture associated with the adapter 11. It should be observed that the contact leg 67 together with the connector 87 thereof and connector 79 of the contact leg 66 are all electrically insulated from the connector 68 of the contact leg 65 adjacent the serated areas 76 and 86 by a vertical wall 88 extending upwardly from the bottom wall of the casing section 36 and seating at its upper end within a channel or recess or 89 provided therefor in the cover 77.

The selector structure mentioned hereinbefore is denoted in general with the numeral 90, and it is adjustably carried by the casing section 36 for movement with respect thereto from a neutral position (not shown) in which all of the contacts 61, 62, and 64 are biased inwardly toward their retracted positions by the respectively associated spring legs 65 and 66 and 67 into a plurality of operative positions respectively shown in FIGS. 5, 6 and FIGS. 9, 10 so as to displace one or another of the pairs of contacts from their inner retracts positions into their outer extended positions. In the position of the selector 90 illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, the contacts 61 and 64 are displaced outwardly into engagement with the respectively associated conductors 26 and 28 so as to connect any fixture arranged with the adapter 11 to the circuit defined by such conductors 26 and 28. In the position of the selector 90 illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, the contacts 61 and 62 are displaced outwardly so as to engage the conductors 26 and 25 and thereby establish an electric connection with the circuit defined thereby.

The selector structure 90 is in the nature of a cam movable into one or another of a plurality of positions one of which is an operative illustrated in FIGS. 1, 5 and 6 wherein the manually movable indicator lever is pointing to circuit position 02 (FIG. 1) which is denoted by the indicia 92, another of which is an operative position angularly displaced therefrom by a 180 and in which the indicator lever 91 will point to circuit position 01 which is denoted by the indicia 94, and the other of which is a neutral position wherein the indicator lever 91 is intermediate the indicia 92 and 94 and points toward the sidewall 56 of the adapter or, as viewed in FIG. 1, toward the sidewall 12a of the track component 10.

In structural terms, the selector 90 includes a cam 95 having a generally cylindrical neck 96 seated within a circular opening formed in the bottom wall 97 of the casing section 36 and rotatable with respect thereto. The cam element 95 is enlarged radially above the neck 96 so that it cannot move downwardly through the opening in the casing bottom wall. In this respect, the cam element is provided with a radially extending cam lobe 98 that is relatively narrow in a vertical direction as is best indicated in FIG. 10, and with a second radially extending cam lobe 100 diametrally oriented with respect to the lobe 98 and of considerably greater vertical dimension. The indicator lever 91 is formed integrally with the cam element 95 (FIG. 6) and passes downwardly through an opening in a retainer plate 101 that underlies the bottom wall 97 of the casing in substantially contiguous relation therewith and is secured to the neck 96 by a plurality of screws or pins 102. The retainer plate 101 has a greater diameter than that of the neck 96 and opening therefor in the casing bottom wall 97, and therefore constrains upward movement of the cam element 95 which, as a result, is constrained against bodily displacements relative to the casing but is free to pivot or rotate with respect thereto.

As between FIGS. 6 and 10 it will be observed that the cam lobes 98 and 100 are reversely oriented, and it will also be noted in these Figures that the resilient legs 65 and 66 of the contacts 61 and 62 have different vertical dimension with the leg 65 projecting downwardly into close proximity with the bottom wall 97 of the casing and the leg 66 being spaced therefrom by a distance greater than the vertical dimension of the cam lobe 98. Accordingly, the cam lobe 98 is effective to displace only the leg 66 and contact 62 outwardly into a conductor-engaging operative position, and this selectivity is evident in FIG. 6 in which the cam lobe 98 passes freely beneath and underlies the leg 66. Accordingly, the cam lobe 98 is operative only with respect to the contact 61 and displaces the same into its outer operative position whenever the selector structure is in circuit position 02 evidenced by the indicator lever 91 pointing to the indicia 92 along the bottom wall 97 of the adaptor. The cam lobe 100, however, because of its greater vertical dimension is effective to displace either of the contacts 61 or 62 outwardly and, therefore, when the indicator lever 91 is in the position shown in FIG. 1 in which it is pointing to the indicia 92, the cam lobe 100 is in engagement with the leg 65 and displaces the contact 61 outwardly into engagement with the conductor 26, as seen in FIG. 6, and when the indicator lever 91 is in its alternate operative position in which it points to the indicia 94, the cam lobe 100 is in engagement with the resilient leg 66, as shown in FIG. 10, so as to displace the contact 62 outwardly into engagement with the conductor 25.

Extending upwardly to a considerably greater height than the cam lobe 100 is a third cam lobe 104 that in an angular sense is intermediate the cam lobes 94 and 100, as is best seen in FIGS. and 9. The cam lobe 104 is operative selectively to engage the leg 97 of the contact 64 and displace the contact outwardly to its extended operative position whenever the selector structure 90 is in the circuit 02 position thereof, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, but when the selector structure is in its alternate operative position the cam lobe 104 is displaced by 180 into the position shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 in which it is remote from the contact leg 67, thereby enabling the leg and contact to return to their retracted position. It will be appreciated that when the selector structure 90 is in its neutral position, the cam lobe 194 will have been displaced in a clockwise direction by 90from the position thereof shown in FIG. 5 and will be remote from the contact leg 67.

The selector structure 90 is confined for angular displacements between the two limiting positions respectively denoted by the indicia 92 and 94, as shown in FIG. 1, and the means by which such limits are imposed includes an arcuate channel or keyway 105 formed in the upper surface of the bottom wall 97 of the casing, as shown in FIGS. 4, 5,6,9 and 10. Located within the arcuate channel 105 is a pin or key 106 formed integrally with the cam element 95 and projecting outwardly from the neck 96, as shown in FIG. 10 and as indicated by broken lines in both FIGS. 5 and 9. The key or pin 106 is adapted to abut one end of the keyway or channel 105 to limit angular displacement of the stop structure in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FlG. 5, such that the indicator lever 91 points to the indicia 92, and when the stop structure is displaced in a clockwise direction from the position shown in FIG. 5 into the position illustrated in FIG. 9, the key 106 abuts the opposite end of the channel to position the indicator lever 91 in alignment with the indicia 94.

The polarization means by which a predetermined orientation is enforced upon the adapter 11 relative to the track component 10 includes two related but separate features or means one of which has been described hereinbefore and is a secondarily effective means including the offset lip 34 defined along the inner upper edge of the flange 32b and the vertically offset ears 50 and 51 provided by the support structure of the adapter. This feature of the polarization means is initially or primarily becomes effective only after the adapter 11 has the upper end portion thereof inserted into the chamber 16 of the track component 10. The other means or feature comprised by the polarization means is initially or primarily effective to prevent insertion of the adapter easing into the chamber 16 unless the adapter has the proper orientation relative thereto. This initially effective feature will now be described with particular reference being given to FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 7.

Such initially effective polarization feature includes an upwardly extending projection formed along the casing section 36 including the top wall 77 thereof, as shown most clearly in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, and an open-topped continuation 108 of such projection extending upwardly for the most part from the casing section 35 but partially from the casing section 36 in superposed juxtaposition with the aforementioned clamping serations 76 and 86, as seen most clearly in FIGS. 4 and 7. Comparing FIGS. 2 and 3 it will be observed that the extensions 107, 108 are effective continuations of each other and are in precise axial alignment but are offset relative to the center axis or a central vertical plane through the adapter 1 1. More particularly in this respect, the projection 107, 108 is closer to the sidewall 56 of the adapter than to the sidewall 55 thereof and it has sufiicient vertical height so as to substantially abut and generally press against the web 20 of the conductor assembly 17.

Cooperative with the combined projection 107, 108 in the sense of polarizing the orientation of the adapter I 1 relative to the track component 10 is the longitudinally extending slotforming socket 27 of the conductor assembly 17 which, it will be observed in both FIGS. 2 and 3, extends along the projection 107, 108 when the adapter and track component are properly oriented and united, as shown in the drawings. Assume, however, the case in which the adapter 11 is inadvertently rotated 180 relative to the track component 10. In such event, the corner portion or longitudinally extending upper edge portion 110 of the projection 107, 108 would underlie the socket 27 and thereby prevent complete insertion of the adapter into the chamber 16 to enable the support structure of the adapter to be displaced into the extended operative position thereof in which the ears 50 and 51 interlockingly engage the flanges 32a and 32b. Thus, in the first instance the polarization components comprising the offset projection 107, I08 and comer portion 110 thereof cooperate with the slotforrning socket 27 of the conductor assembly 17 to inhibit complete insertion of the adapter into the chamber 16; and in the second instance the vertical offset of the flanges 32a and 32b defined by the upwardly extending lip 34 along the latter flange in cooperation with the vertically offset ears 50 and 51 of the support structure of the adapter prevent the adapter from being mechanically secured to the track component 10 unless the proper relative orientation thereof is observed.

As explained hereinbefore, the conductor assembly 17 fits rather loosely into the chamber 16, and since the depending legs 30a and 39b of the conductor assembly are somewhat shorter than the vertical distance defined between the respectively cooperative paired shoulders and underlying flanges 31a, 32a, and 31b, 32b, the conductor assembly ordinarily assumes a position in which the web 20 thereof is spaced slightly from the overlying web 14 of the track component. However, the vertical dimension of the adapter projection 107, 108 is such that when the adapter is properly inserted into the chamber 16 of the track component, the projection presses against the web 20 and displaces it upwardly toward contiguous juxtaposition with the overlying web 14 of the track component, as shown in both H68. 2 and 3. When this occurs, the lower extremities of the legs 30a and 30b are spaced slightly above the upper surfaces of the respectively associated flanges 32a and 32b. Such interrelationship of the track component 10, conductor assembly 17 and adapter 11 is advantageous in that it properly locates the conductor assembly 17 relative to the adapter 11 between which electric connection must be established through the various conductors 25, 26 and 28 and the contacts 61, 62 and 64 of the adapter thereby obviating any dimensional discrepancies that might otherwise tend to prevent proper alignment of such contacts with the restricted mouths of the various slot-forming sockets defining the entrances to the conductors 25, 26 and 28.

From the foregoing description it will be apparent that adapters 11 may be readily secured mechanically to the track component 10 at substantially any selected location along the continuous convenience outlet defined by the chamber 16 simply by orienting the adapter 11 properly with respect to the track component and inserting the adapter into the chamber 16, whereupon the lever or handle 44 can be displaced within the limits defined by the slot 55 to extend the ears 50 and 51 into overlying juxtaposition with the flanges 32a and 32b, as shown particularly in FIG. 2. Thereafter, the electric fixture carried by the adapter 11 is connected to the appropriate circuit simply by displacing the lever 91 from the neutral. position thereof intermediate the circuit-forming positions respectfully defined by the indicia 92 and 94 into either such circuit-forming position as the electric load conditions may require.

While in the foregoing specification and embodiment of the invention has been described in considerable detail for purposes of making a complete disclosure thereof, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that numerous changes may be made in such details without departing from the spirit and principles of the invention.

What is claimed is:

l. In a power distribution system, the combination of a longitudinally extending track component comprising a pair of transversely spaced and longitudinally extending sidewalls and a longitudinally extending transverse web fixedly connected with said sidewalls in intermediate disposition therebetween and defining therewith a longitudinally extending openmouthed chamber equipped therealong with a conductor assembly having a plurality of pairs of conductors insulated one from another; and an adapter for mechanically securing an electric fixture to said track component and for electrically connecting such fixture selectively to one or another of said pairs of conductors; said adapter comprising an elongated casing having at least a portion thereof insertable into said chamber, support structure carried by said casing for selective movement with respect thereto between a retracted position in which said casing can be inserted into and withdrawn from said track and an extended position to mechanically secure said adapter thereto, a plurality of pairs of contacts mounted within said casing and each being movable with respect thereto between an inner retracted position and an outer extended position for engagement with one of said conductors following insertion of said casing portion into said chamber, selector structure adjustably carried by said casing for movement with respect thereto from a neutral position in which each of said contacts is in its retracted position into one or another of a plurality of operative positions so as to displace one pair or another pair of said contacts selectively into their outer extended positions for respective engagement with said conductors, and polarization means including cooperative elements respectively provided by said track component and adapter to enforce a predetermined relative orientation thereon and thereby positively relate the operative positions of said selector structure to the respective pairs of conductors provided by said track component.

2. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which said conductor assembly fits relatively loosely within said track chamber and is displaceable toward and away from said track web, and in which said adapter casing is engageable with said conductor assembly upon insertion into said chamber to establish the position of said conductor assembly therein and thereby effect alignment of said conductors with said contacts. 3. The power distribution system of claim 2 in which each of said track sidewalls is equipped with a flange extending inwardly into said chamber in spaced relation with said track web, and in which said conductor assembly has depending legs respectively adjacent said track sidewalls and adapted to rest upon said flanges to limit displacement of said conductor assembly in a direction away from said track web, said adapter being engageable with said conductor assembly to displace it toward said track web.

4. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which each of said track sidewalls is equipped with a flange extending inwardly into said chamber in spaced relation with said track weband providing support surfaces offset with respect to each other relative to said track web, and in which said support structure has offset ears respectively engageable with said support surfaces and comprising therewith cooperative elements of the aforesaid polarization means.

5. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which said conductor assembly is provided with a conductor equipped socket extending longitudinally along said track chamber in asymmetrical relation therewith, and in which said adapter casing is provided with an asymmetrical portion located to abut said socket in one orientation of said adapter relative to said track component and to clear said socket in another orientation and comprising with said socket cooperative elements of the aforesaid polarization means.

6. The power distribution system of claim 5 in which each of said track sidewalls is equipped with a flange extending inwardly into said chamber in spaced relation with said track web and providing support surfaces ofi'set with respect to each other relative to said track web, and in which said support structure has offset'ears respectively engageable with said sup port surfaces and comprising therewith other cooperative elements of the aforesaid polarization means.

7. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which said support structure is located adjacent one end of said casing and said selector structure is located adjacent the opposite end thereof, each of said contacts having a resilient leg extending to a position intermediate the ends of said casing and being equipped thereat with a laterally turned connector, and releasable clamp means provided by said casing adjacent each of said connectors and cooperative with at least certain thereof to confine a lead wire thereagainst to establish an electric connection therebetween.

8. The power distribution system of claim 7 in which said casing is equipped with a removable cover provided with one jaw of the aforesaid clamp means to define the releasability thereof.

9. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which each of said track sidewalls is equipped with a flange extending inwardly into said chamber in spaced relation with said track web, and in which said support structure in the extended position thereof is engageable with said flanges to mechanically secure said adapter to said track.

10. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which said selector structure comprises a cam rotatably supported by said casing for angular displacements into the aforesaid neutral and operative positions, means carried by said cam and accessible from the exterior of said casing to displace said cam, and indicia means associated with said casing and cam for indicating the operative positions of said cam.

11. The power distribution system of claim 10 in which said casing is provided with angularly spaced abutments respectively defining the operative positions of said cam, and in which said cam is equipped with a stop selectively engageable with said abutments to positively locate said cam in the operative positions thereof.

12. The power distribution system of claim 1 in which said conductor assembly fits relatively loosely within said track chamber and is displaceable toward and away from said track web, in which said adapter casing is engageable with said conductor assembly upon insertion into said chamber to establish the position of said conductor assembly therein and thereby effect alignment of said conductors with said contacts, in which each of said track sidewalls is equipped with a flange extending inwardly into said chamber in spaced relation with said track web, and in which said support structure in the extended position thereof is engageable with said flanges to mechanically secure said adapter to said track.

13. The power distribution system of claim 12 in which said flanges provide support surfaces offset with respect to each other relative to said track web, in which said support structure has oflset ears respectively engageable with said support surfaces and comprising therewith cooperative elements of the aforesaid polarization means, in which said conductor assembly is provided with a conductor-equipped socket extending longitudinally along said track chamber in asymmetrical relation therewith, and in which said adapter casing is provided with an asymmetrical portion located to abut said socket in one orientation of said adapter relative to said track component and to clear said socket in another orientation and comprising with said socket cooperative other elements of the aforesaid polarization means.

14. The power distribution system of claim 13 in which said selector structure comprises a cam rotatably supported by said casing for angular displacements into the aforesaid neutral and operative positions, means carried by said cam and accessible from the exterior of said casing to displace said cam,

indicia means associated with said casing and cam for indicating the operative positions of said cam, in which casing is provided with angularly spaced abutments respectively defining the operative positions of said cam, and in which said cam is equipped with a stop selectively engageable with said abutments to positively locate said cam in the operative positions thereof.

15. A longitudinally extending track component for a power distribution system, comprising a pair of transversely spaced and longitudinally extending sidewalls and a longitudinally extending transverse track web fixedly connected with said sidewalls in intermediate disposition therebetween and defining therewith a longitudinally extending open-mouthed chamber, each of said sidewalls being equipped with a flange extending inwardly into said chamber in spaced relation with said web and providing support surfaces offset with respect to each other relative to said web, a longitudinally extending conductor assembly having a plurality of pairs of conductors insulated one from another and being located within said chamber in loosely fitting relation with said track component and being displaceable with respect thereto toward and away from said web, said conductor assembly having a longitudinally extending transverse conductor web corresponding in configuration to the aforesaid track web and extending therealong and having also depending legs respectively adjacent said track sidewalls and adapted to rest upon said flanges to limit displacement of said conductor assembly in a direction away from said track, said conductor web being engageable by an adapter inserted into said chamber to displace said conductor assembly toward said track web to effect a desired condition of alignment between said conductor as sembly and such adapter, said conductor assembly being provided with a pair of symmetrically disposed sockets respectively receiving certain of said conductors therein and extending longitudinally along said chamber on opposite sides thereof, and said conductor assembly also being provided with a further socket having another of said conductors mounted therein and extending longitudinally along said chamber and projecting inwardly thereinto to make the same asymmetrical, whereby said asymmetrical socket is adapted to cooperate with a complementary adapter insertable into said chamber to enforce a predetermined orientation on the adapter relative to said track component togrevent improper electrical connectron of the adapter to sm conductors and said offset support surfaces are adapted to cooperate with correspondingly offset support ears provided by such an adapter to prevent improper mechanical connection thereof to said track.

16. An adapter for mechanically securing an electric fixture to a track component and for electrically connecting such fixture selectively to one or another of a pair of circuits defined by a plurality of conductors carried by such track component along a substantially continuous convenience outlet extending longitudinally therealong, comprising an elongated casing having at least a portion thereof insertable into such outlet, support structure carried by said casing for selective movement with respect thereto between a retracted position in which said casing can be inserted into and withdrawn from such outlet and an extended position interlockingly engageable with such track to mechanically secure said adapter thereto, a plurality of pairs of contacts mounted within said.

casing and each being movable with respect thereto between an inner retracted position and an outer extended position for engagement with one of such conductors following insertion of said casing portion into such outlet, selector structure adjustably carried by said casing for movement with respect thereto from a neutral position in which each of said contacts is in its retracted position into one or another of a plurality of operative positions so as to displace one pair or another pair of said contacts selectively into their outer extended positions for respective engagement with such conductors, and polarization means including elements provided by said adapter to enforce a predetermined relative orientation thereon relative to such track component and thereby positively relate the operative positions of said selector structure to the respective pairs of conductors provided by such track component.

17. The adapter of claim 16 in which said selector structure comprises a cam rotatably supported by said casing for angular displacements into the aforesaid neutral and operative positions, means carried by said cam and accessible from the exterior or said casing to displace said cam, and indicia means associated with said casing and cam for indicating the operative positions of said cam.

18. The adapter of claim 17 in which each of said contacts is provided with a resilient leg extending longitudinally along said casing within the interior thereof, said legs having portions thereof disposed at different elevations adjacent said cam, and said cam having a plurality of cam lobes one of which has an elevation making it cooperative with only one of said legs, a second of which has an elevation making it cooperative with only a second of said legs, and a third of which has an elevation making it selectively cooperative with said second of said legs and a third of said legs, whereby said second leg and the contact associated therewith are common to each of the operative positions of said cam.

19. The power distribution system of claim 18 in which said casing is provided with angularly spaced abutments respectively defining the operative positions of said cam, and in which said cam is equipped with a stop selectively engageable with said abutments to positively locate said cam in the operative positions thereof.

20. The power distribution system of claim 19 in which said support structure is located adjacent one end of said casing and said selector structure is located adjacent the opposite end thereof, each of said resilient legs extending to a position intermediate the ends of said casing and being equipped thereat with a laterally turned connector, and releasable clamp means provided by said casing adjacent each of said connectors and cooperative with at least certain thereof to confine a lead wire thereagainst to establish an electric connection therebetween.

21. The power distribution system of claim 20 in which said casing is equipped with a removable cover provided with one jaw of the aforesaid clamp means to define the releasability thereof.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3686614 *Feb 1, 1971Aug 22, 1972Nokia Oy AbConnecting plug for a current supply rail
US3737834 *Sep 20, 1971Jun 5, 1973Us Industries IncAdapter for three conductor electrical power distribution track
US3760133 *Mar 27, 1972Sep 18, 1973Rotaflex LtdElectrical lighting installations
US3771103 *Jan 24, 1972Nov 6, 1973Ogomat Nv ResSystem for the installation of electrical cables
US3781754 *Dec 8, 1971Dec 25, 1973Reininghaus & CoLighting device
US3858155 *Apr 4, 1973Dec 31, 1974Telemecanique ElectriqueSystem providing power supply connections and interconnections for logic blocks
US3951488 *Apr 22, 1974Apr 20, 1976Kurt HessePlug receptacle for a contact rail adaptor
US3993385 *Jan 16, 1975Nov 23, 1976A. Ahlstrom OsakeyhtioCurrent collector, provided with a selector, for a conductor rail
US4163595 *Nov 15, 1977Aug 7, 1979LitaElectrical supply device
US4547030 *Mar 30, 1982Oct 15, 1985Tanner Chaplin Tracks Ltd.Electrical distribution system
US8899999Sep 24, 2012Dec 2, 2014Abl Ip Holding LlcTrack adapter and lighting fixture
EP2507875A1 *Dec 2, 2010Oct 10, 2012American Power Conversion CorporationApparatus and method for scalable power distribution
Classifications
U.S. Classification439/117, 439/677
International ClassificationH01R25/14, H01R25/00
Cooperative ClassificationH01R25/142
European ClassificationH01R25/14B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 1, 1986ASAssignment
Owner name: PRESCOLITE INC., 1251 DOOLITTLE DRIVE, SAN LEANDRO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:U.S. INDUSTRIES, INC.,;REEL/FRAME:004568/0413
Effective date: 19860521