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Publication numberUS3636651 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 25, 1972
Filing dateAug 20, 1969
Priority dateAug 20, 1969
Publication numberUS 3636651 A, US 3636651A, US-A-3636651, US3636651 A, US3636651A
InventorsCarver Richard N, Hubiak Walter, Kienholz Charles M, Lewis Merle R, Lohr Raymond J
Original AssigneeMarx & Co Louis
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toy vehicle propulsion unit
US 3636651 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

I Umted States Patent n51 3,636,155 1 Lohr et al. Jan. 25, 1972 s41 TOY VEHICLE PROPULSION UNIT FOREIGN PATENTS 0R APPLICATIONS [72] Inventors: Raymond J. Lohr, Erie; Merle R. Lewis, 529,892 3/1955 Italy ..46/202 McKean; Walter l-lubiak; Charles M. Kienhoiz, both of Lawrence Park; Richard rimary ExaminerLouis G. Mancene N. Carver, Erie, all of Pa. Assistant ExaminerD. L. Weinhold Art Bl ,M 'tz,F'd &K I [73] Assignee: Louis Marx & Co., Inc., New York, NY. omey um oscovl me man ap an 221 Filed: Aug. 20, 1969 1 ABSTRACT [2 1] Appl. No.: 851,707 A propulsion unit forming a propulsion station located along a closed circuit trackway so that, as a toy vehicle travels along the trackway and passes through the propulsion station, a [52] U.S.Cl. ..46/l K, 46/202 force will be applied to the my vehicle to further propel it 51 Im. Cl. 1 1 ..A63h 11/10 alongthe "ackway, [58] Field of Search ..46/l, 243, 22 l 202 5 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures {56] References Cited UNlTED STATES PATENTS 3,486,269 12/1969 Fischer ..46/22i X mimlzumsmz 3536551 SHEEI 2 OF 3 I "lm p m r 3 RAYMOND J L)??? MRL R. LEWIS WALTER HUBIAK CHARLES M. KEINHOLZ RICHARD N. CARVER TOY VEHICLE PROPULSION UNIT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to a toy vehicle propulsion unit for propelling or driving a toy vehicle along a trackway and is especially adapted for use with toy vehicles which are devoid of motive means.

Since time immemorial, toy vehicles have been manufactured without motive means or with various types of self-contained motive means. Self-contained motive means have taken the form of inertia motors, windup spring motors and batteryoperated motors. In more recent years, slot racing developed as a popular and sport with slot cars having electric motors to which power is supplied through contacts in the trackway along which the cars travel. A more recent development in toy vehicles, especially toy vehicles of small size, is the frictionless axle and wheel construction which results in a vehicle that will travel a substantial distance along a surface or trackway after the vehicle has been physically propelled by the child. Such frictionless vehicles are devoid of self-contained drive means.

While the frictionless vehicles have substantial play value, their lack of motive means has hampered the interest generated in play with such vehicles.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Generally speaking, in accordance with the invention, a propulsion unit is provided which is especially suitable for use with the frictionless type of toy vehicle. One or more closed circuit trackways can be provided for the toy vehicles with a propulsion station along each trackway. When the toy vehicle passes the propulsion station, an external driving force is imparted thereto and, due to the low or frictionless qualities of the vehicle, it will coast along the trackway until it again comes to the propulsion station at which a driving force will again be applied thereto.

Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide an improved toy vehicle propulsion unit for imparting an external driving force to a toy vehicle passing through a propulsion station defined by the propulsion unit.

Another object of the invention is to provide an improved toy vehicle propulsion unit which can apply an external driving force to a toy vehicle, with the driving force being under the control of an operator.

A further object of the invention is to provide an improved toy vehicle propulsion unit capable of externally propelling toy vehicles of various sizes and shapes.

Still another object of the invention is to provide an improved toy vehicle propulsion unit which imparts a driving force to a toy vehicle by contact with the external surface thereof.

Still other objects and advantages of the invention will in part be obvious and will in part be apparent from the specification.

The invention accordingly comprises the features of construction, combinations of elements, and arrangement of parts which will be exemplified in the constructions hereinafter set forth, and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a fuller understanding of the invention, reference is had to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a toy vehicle propulsion unit constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the instant invention;

FIG. 2 is a partial sectional view taken along line 22 of FIG. 1;

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

FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of a toy vehicle propulsion unit constructed in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the instant invention;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 is a partial sectional view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 5.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 4, there is shown a propulsion unit having separate propulsion means for two side-by-side trackways whereby two toy vehicles can race against one another under individual control. A housing 11 is formed with a baseplate 12 defining a left trackway I3 and a right trackway 14. The left trackway is formed with sidewalls 15 and the right trackway with sidewalls 16 for guiding a toy vehicle indicated generally at 10. The toy vehicle will preferably be of the frictionless wheel and axle type construction so that the vehicle can freely roll along the trackway. As shown in FIG. 1, the left and right trackways extend beyond the propulsion unit in both directions and will normally be formed into a closed loop so that vehicles can be propelled out of the propulsion unit and returned to the propulsion unit for further propulsion. The precise form of the trackway and its manner of connection to the propulsion unit is not deemed part of the instant invention and has not been shown.

Adjacent left trackway 13 is a support 17 in which is mounted an electric motor 18. A support 17' supports an electric motor 18 adjacent the right trackway. Generally speaking, the propulsion units for each trackway are identical and thus such units will be described in connection with the left trackway only with the corresponding elements of the right trackway being indicated by identical but primed numerals to thereby avoid unnecessary and extended description of the identical elements.

Motor shaft 19 extends over left trackway 13 on an axis spaced from but parallel to the plane of the trackway. A disc 21 is secured to motor shaft 13 and acts as an inertia wheel or flywheel for a purpose to be hereafter apparent. Disc 21 is formed with a cylindrical projection 22 on which is fixedly mounted drive element 23. Drive element 23 is formed of resilient material, such as rubber, so that it may readily deflect. The drive element is generally cup shaped as indicated at 24' when the drive element is at rest. However, the drive element is preferably formed of soft" rubber so that it may easily deflect. When rotated at high speed by motor 18, the annular periphery of the drive element will tend to move outwardly and towards the flywheel and will become substantially flattened as indicated at 25.

A plurality of batteries 31 are mounted on baseplate 12 by means of clips 32 which support the batteries and also electrically connect them in a series circuit. A rheostat 33 of any suitable type is controlled by an externally mounted rotatable knob 34. Two parallel circuits serially connect each rheostat and its associated motor to the battery circuit. Since such circuitry is well known to those having ordinary skill in the electrical art, and since the circuitry forms no part of the instant invention, the circuitry has been omitted for the sake of simplicity.

From the structure heretofore described, operation of the propulsion unit may now be explained. By rotation of rheostat 33, motor 18 will be rotated at any predetennined speed to thereby effect rotation of disc 21 and drive element 23. A toy vehicle 10 moving in the direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 4 will enter the propulsion unit. As the spacing of the peripheral edge of drive element 23 above trackway I3 is less than the total height of the toy vehicle, the top of the toy vehicle will be engaged by the rotating drive element. The resiliency of the drive element and its expanded position during rotation will cause intimate contact between the drive element and the toy vehicle thereby imparting a tangentially directed force with respect to the drive element to the toy vehicle to propel it along the trackway and cause it to shoot out of the propulsion unit along the trackway. The toy vehicle will thereafter coast around the closed circuit being guided by the walls of the trackway and, if a sufficient driving force has been applied to the toy vehicle, it will complete the circuit and coast into the propulsion unit wherein a driving force will again be imparted thereto.

Since battery-operated motors used for toys generally have low torque, the inertia of rotating disc 21 will minimize loss of driving power to the toy vehicle when it is in the propulsion unit and deflecting the drive element as shown in FIG. 3.

To form a closed circuit trackway of interesting play value, it will be understood that the trackway will have a number of curves. Excessive speed of the toy vehicle may cause the vehicle to jump the trackway while, if the vehicle leaves the propulsion unit at too slow a speed, it may not be able to complete the circuit and reenter the propulsion unit in an unaided manner. Thus, the skill of the operator is required to properly select the setting of the rheostat. Where two side-byside trackways are provided, a race can be set up by two players and thus each player, operating his individual rheostat, will attempt to have his vehicle propelled at the maximum speed that the vehicle is able to travel along the trackway without jumping the track.

To prevent the toy vehicle from entering the propulsion unit in the wrong direction, supports 26 are secured to the housing and extend over the trackway. An L-shaped blocking arm 27 is pivoted intermediate its ends to the supports whereby the blocking arm may be freely rotated in one direction by the propelled vehicle leaving the propulsion unit but, by contact between the L-shaped blocking arm and the housing, the blocking arm may not be rotated in the opposite direction to thereby prevent vehicles from entering the propulsion unit from the wrong direction.

An alternate construction of the instant invention is shown in FIGS. through 7. A housing 41 is formed with a baseplate 42 defining a trackway 43 on which toy vehicle will ride. The trackway includes sidewalls 44 for guiding the toy vehicle. Mounted on housing 41 is a motor 45 whose drive shaft 46 has secured thereon a disc or flywheel 47. Extending outwardly from disc 47 and secured thereto coaxial with drive shaft 46 is a hollow tube 48 whose longitudinal axis is disposed transversely over trackway 43. Mounted on tube 48 is a cylindrical sponge pad 49 of sufficient thickness to space the surface thereof from the trackway a distance less than the height of toy vehicle 10. However, the surface of hollow tube 48 is spaced above the trackway with clearance with respect to the height of the toy vehicle so that the sponge pad 49 can be compressed by the toy vehicle as shown in FIG. 7 without interference from tube 48.

As in the prior embodiment, batteries 51 are mounted in the housing by means of suitable clips 52 and the batteries are serially connected to motor 45 through a rheostat externally controlled by a knob 53.

Operation of the propulsion unit is substantially the same as that described in connection with the embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 4. Motor 45 is driven through the rheostat by the batteries and the speed of the motor is controlled by the rheostat. The motor drives disc 47-and, through hollow tube 48, the sponge pad. A toy vehicle travels along trackway 43 in the direction of the arrow indicated in FIG. 5 and the toy vehicle is engaged by the sponge pad, which it deflects, to apply a driving force to the toy vehicle to propel it out of the propulsion unit. Each time the toy vehicle completes a trackway circuit, it will again be propelled by the continuously rotating, sponge pad.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 5 through 7, means are also provided for adjusting the position of the sponge pad with respect to the trackway. A cradle 54 is pivoted to housing 41 through pin 55. Walls 56 of the housing closely engage cradle 54 whereby engagement between the walls of the cradle and walls 56 applies a friction force to the cradle whereby the era dle may be rotated about pin 55 and will remain in any preset position. Motor 45 is carried by the cradle whereby the positioning of the cradle effects a positioning of the motor and of the toy vehicle drive elements mounted to the motor shaft. Thus, as can be seen in FIG. 6, for a toy vehicle of low height,

the cradle, motor and drive means would be rotated to the solid line position for proper engagement between the sponge pad and the toy vehicle. On the other hand, if a high vehicle is to travel through the propulsion unit, the cradle could be rotated to the phantom line position to provide greater clearance between the sponge pad and the trackway.

It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in the above constructions without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

What is claimed is:

I. A toy vehicle propulsion unit comprising a housing, a trackway in said housing, a motor carried by said housing, controlled power means connected to said motor for controlling the operation of same, and toy vehicle propulsion means in said housing for propelling from said housing a vehicle on said trackway, said propulsion means having vehicleengaging means proximate said trackway, said propulsion means being operatively connected to said motor, said vehicle-engaging means being resilient and arranged with respect to said trackway to engage and be deflected by a vehicle traveling along said trackway, said resilient engaging means having a circular periphery, said circular periphery being rotatable by said motor, said circular periphery, during rotation thereof, having a tangential vector component directed along said trackway in the direction of travel of the vehicle thereon, said resilient engaging means being cup shaped and formed of soft, readily deflectable material.

2. A toy vehicle propulsion unit comprising a housing, a trackway in said housing, a motor carried by said housing, controlled power means connected to said motor for controlling the operation of same, and toy vehicle propulsion means in said housing for propelling from said housing a vehicle on said trackway, said propulsion means having vehicleengaging means proximate said trackway, said propulsion means being operatively connected to said motor, said vehicle-engaging means being resilient and arranged with respect to said trackway to engage and be deflected by a vehicle traveling along said trackway, said resilient engaging means having a circular periphery, said circular periphery being rotatable by said motor, said circular periphery, during rotation thereof, having a tangential vector component directed along said trackway in the direction of travel of the vehicle thereon, said propulsion means including an inertia element rotatable by said motor with said vehicle-engaging means.

3. A toy vehicle propulsion unit comprising a housing, a trackway in said housing, a motor carried by said housing, controlled power means connected to said motor for controlling the operation of same, and toy vehicle propulsion means in said housing for propelling from said housing a vehicle on said trackway, said propulsion means having vehicleengaging means proximate said trackway, said propulsion means being operatively connected to said motor, said vehicle-engaging means being resilient and arranged with respect to said trackway to engage and be deflected by a vehicle traveling along said trackway, said resilient engaging means having a circular periphery, and circular periphery being rotatable by said motor, said circular periphery, during rotation thereof, having a tangential vector com onent directed along said trackway in the direction of travel of the vehicle thereon, said vehicle-engaging means including a nonresilient support and a compressible resilient member secured to said support, said compressible resilient member only being engageable by the toy vehicle traveling along said trackway.

4. A toy vehicle propulsion unit as claimed in claim 3 wherein said nonresilient support is a hollow, generally tubular member and said compressible resilient member is a generally cylindrical element formed of spongelike material.

5. A toy vehicle propulsion unit comprising a housing, a trackway in said housing, a motor carried by said housing, controlled power means connected to said motor for controlling the operation of same, and toy vehicle propulsion means in said housing for propelling from said housing a vehicle on said trackway, said propulsion means having vehicleengaging means proximate said trackway, said propulsion means being operatively connected to said motor, said vehicle-engaging means being resilient and arranged with respect to said trackway to engage and be deflected by a vehicle traveling along said trackway, said resilient engaging means having a circular periphery, said circular periphery being rotatable by said motor, said circular periphery, during rotation thereof, having a tangential vector component directed along said trackway in the direction of travel of the vehicle thereon, wherein said propulsion means is mounted on the shaft of said motor, said housing including a cradle pivoted in said housing, said motor being mounted in said cradle, said cradle being movable for adjusting the position of said vehicle engaging means with respect to said trackway.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4070024 *Oct 7, 1976Jan 24, 1978Tomy Kogyo Co., Inc.Continuous racetrack having vehicle accelerating device
US5052972 *Jul 20, 1990Oct 1, 1991Kabushiki Kaisha Hanzawa CorporationDrive device for toy automobile
US6793554Jun 30, 2003Sep 21, 2004Mattel, Inc.Flexible wall booster wheel for toy vehicle trackset
US7901266May 4, 2007Mar 8, 2011Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle collision set
US7963821Sep 14, 2007Jun 21, 2011Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle track set
US8192246Aug 26, 2010Jun 5, 2012Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle track set
US8342903Apr 26, 2010Jan 1, 2013Mattel, Inc.Adjustable toy vehicle track intersection assemblies
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/429
International ClassificationA63H18/00, A63H18/14
Cooperative ClassificationA63H18/14
European ClassificationA63H18/14