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Publication numberUS3697071 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 10, 1972
Filing dateNov 10, 1969
Priority dateNov 10, 1969
Publication numberUS 3697071 A, US 3697071A, US-A-3697071, US3697071 A, US3697071A
InventorsAnderson John E
Original AssigneeAnderson John E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Fluid actuated track system with constant flow valve
US 3697071 A
A toy system having transparent conduit forming a track for projectiles such as toy trains propelled by air or water. A constant flow-type valve admits the fluid from a source of air or water under pressure controlling the rate of fluid admission to the conduit track to control the speed of the projectile along the track. The track is arranged in various configurations including closed loops and parallel straight drag strips. Indicating devices are included for counting the laps traversed by projectiles on the closed tracks and for indicating a winner in the drag strip arrangement.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent.

Anderson FLUID ACTUATED TRACK SYSTEM 8 WITH CONSTANT FLOW VALVE Inventor: John E. Anderson, 217 Sesame Drive, Mesquite, Tex. 75149 Filed:

Appl. No.: 875,212

Nov. 10, 1969 us. Cl ..273/86 D, 46/44, 46/206,

Int. Cl ..A63f 9/14, 865g 51/04 Field of Search ..273/86 R, 86 B, 86 D; 46/44,

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Wolever ..243/5 X Pallada ..273/86 R UX Levenstein ..273/86 R X [451 Oct. 10, 1972 3,469,340 9/1969 Breneman et al ..46/44 OTHER PUBLICATIONS Mattel Toys Calalog, March 14, 1968, Page 4 Primary Examiner-Anton O. Oechsle Attomey-H. Mathews Garland [57] ABSTRACT 12 Claim, 23 Drawing Figures m w w John E. Anderson BY SHEET 1 [IF 4 PATENTEnnm 10 m2 of em ATTORNEY PATENTED BI 1 I912 3 .697. 071

SHEET. 2 0F 4 INVENTOR John E.Ander$on By M ATTORNEY PATENTEDnm 10 m2 SHEET 3 0F 4 Fig.20

lA/l/E/VTUI? John E. Anderson ATTORNEY PATENTEBnm 10 m2 3. 6 97 0 71 susmora IIVVE/VTOR John E.Anderson JB ATTORNEY FLUID ACTUATED TRACK SYSTEM WITH CONSTANT FLOW VALVE This invention relates to toys and more particularly relates to a toy system having fluid propelled vehicles.

It is a principal object of this invention to provide a new and improved toy.

It is another object of this invention to provide a new and improved toy system including moveable objects or vehicles which are propelled along a defined track by controlled fluid flow.

It is another object of this invention to provide a fluid actuated toy which operates in a transparent conduit which may be arranged in a number of different selected configurations.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a fluid actuated toy including a conduit-like track which may be arranged in one or more closed circuits for continuous operation within such circuits or in open ended track-like drag strips for single runs.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a fluid actuated toy which may include a plurality of closed circuit tracks supplied with fluid pressure from a common source whereby vehicles in the several tracks may be raced against each other.

It is another object of the invention to provide a fluid actuated toy arrangeable to have at least two dragstrip-like tracks with means at the finish end of the tracks for indicating a winner among the vehicles raced along thetracks.

It is another object of the invention to provide a toy of the character described which includes lap counters for indicating the number of laps each vehicle has traversed in a closed circuittrack included in the toy system.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a fluid actuated toy of the character described which includes a valve having air escape or spillage means to permit coninuous supply of fluid into a closed circuit track form of the toy system.

It is another object of the invention to provide a toy system of the character described which includes a valve for admission and removal of a vehicle without disassemblying the track of the system.

It is a further object of the. invention to provide a fluid actuated toy system which may utilize as a fluid pressure source such commonplace equipment as a garden hose or a tank-type vacuum cleaner.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a toy system of the character described which preferably utilizes a tubular transparent track structure and may employ conduits having other cross-section configurations.

It is another object of the invention to provide a toy system of the character described which includes a Y- fitting having air spillage means.

These and other objects of the invention will be apparent from reading the following description of several forms of toy systems embodying the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a toy system embodying the invention including two parallel drag strips with a winner indicating exit assembly;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a toy system embodying the invention arranged to include two identical closed circuit tracks passing through a lap counting unit:

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a single track arrangement in a toy system embodying the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a plurality of vehicles arranged in train-like fashion for propulsion along the track of the toy system;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another form of vehicle which may be used in the track of the toy system;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a sled-like vehicle which may be propelled through the track of the toy system;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary view in section of one form of Y connecting fitting for coupling the fluid source into the track of the toy system;

FIG. 8 is a top view in elevation of a control valve used to control fluid flow into the track system from the fluid pressure source;

FIG. 9 is an end view of the valve of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a longitudinal view in section and elevation along the line 10-10 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a top view in elevation of a fitting for admitting and removing vehicles in the system;

FIG. 12 is an end view of the fitting shown in FIG. 1 l;

' FIG. 13 is a longitudinal side view in section of the fitting of FIG. 11 taken along the line 13-13 of FIG. 1 1;

FIG. 14 is a vertical view in section and elevation of one form of exit assembly and winner" indicator for use with the toy system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 15 is a view in elevation of the unit of FIG. 14 showing its flag marker moved to one of its winner indicating positions;

FIG. 16 is a side view in elevation and section of the indicator apparatus of FIGS. 14 and 15;

FIG. 17 is an end view of the winner" indicator and exit assembly showing its back side, taken opposite to the view in FIG. 14;

FIG. 18 is a top view in elevation of the indicator unit of FIGS. 14-16;

FIG. 19 is a view in elevation and section showing the front side of the lap counter used in the arrangement of the toy system shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 20 is a side view in section and elevation of th lap counter along the line 20-20 of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is a view in section and elevation of the back side of the lap counter;

FIG. 21A is a fragmentary view in section along the line 21A-21A of FIG. 21; and

FIG. 22 is an enlarged perspective view of one of the cam levers used in the lap counter of FIGS. 19-21.

FIG. 1 of the drawings illustrates a drag strip form 30 of a toy system embodying the invention which includes a pair of identical drag strip track sections 31 which are constructed of a clear or transparent tubular plastic material so that the progress of the toy vehicles propelled along the tracks are easily observed. The pair of drag strip sections are both supplied with fluid under pressure, preferably air, discharged from a suitable small blower unit 32 having a pair of spaced tubular outlets 33. The fluid source 32 may be a conventional centrifugal blower having a housing with an outlet or discharge channel connected with the tubular members 33. The outlet tubes 33 are connected with a pair of identical control valves 34 which are shown in detail in FIGS. 8-10 for controlling the flow of fluid into the cle propelled along the sections. Each of the control valves is connected with a short tubular coupling 35 each of which is secured and communicates with a Y- shaped fitting 40, shown in detail in FIG. 7. Each of the Y sections has a fluid admission arm 41 connected with the tubing coupling 35 and a vehicle admission arm 42 connected with an open-ended vehicle admission tub ing section 43. The trunk or discharge end portions 44 of the Y fittings are connected to the inlet ends of the parallel drag strip sections 31. The finish or discharge end of the drag strip sections 31 are connected into an exit winner indicator unit 50 illustrated in detail in FIGS 14-18.

Briefly, in the operation of the drag strip form 30 of the toy system, the vehicle to be propelled along the drag strip sections are each placed in one of the tubing admittance sections 43 and the movements of the vehicles along the parallel drag strip sections are thereafter controlled by the operators of the valves 34 to move the vehicles along the drag strip sections to the exit unit 50 through which they are discharged from the toy system. The unit 50 also provides an indication of which of the vehicles reach the exit unit first and thus is considered the winner of the race between the vehicles.

The complete structure and operation of the toy system 30 will be better understood after a more detailed description of the Y fitting 40 and the exit unit 50. Referring to FIG. 7, the Y fitting is enlarged along an end portion 41a of its fluid admission arm 41 providing a counter bore 51 into which the tubing coupler section 35 is connected. A tubular nozzle-like insert 52 is concentrically disposed within the arm 41 to provide a restriction which increases the fluid velocity as the fluid is admitted to the fitting. The insert has an end flange 53 received in the counter bore portion 51 of the arm and held there by the inward end of the tubing coupler 35. It will be apparent that the insert 52 may be provided in a number of different sizes for varying the admission velocity of the fluid as desired. The vehicle admission arm 42 of the Y fitting also is enlarged along its end portion 42a providing a counter bore 54 which receives the tubing vehicle admission section 43. The trunk or discharge arm 44 of the Y fitting counter bored at 55 providing an internal annular shoulder 60 which engages the end edge of the drag strip track section 31 when it is inserted into the Y fitting as shown in detail in FIG. 7. The various tubing sections other than the insert 52 are coupled into the Y fitting in such a manner that a substantially smooth internal tubular surface is provided which is desirable to minimize fluid turbulance and thereby provide for smooth fluid flow. The trunk 44 of the Y fitting is provided with a plurality of longitudinally spaced laterally opening ports 61 which serve an essential function of air spillage in the closed circuit forms of the toy system shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 and which, though not essential in the drag strip arrangement 30 of the toy system, are operable and are generally used to minimize the number of parts required for forming the several track arrangements of the toy system. Each Y fitting is adaptable to either the drag strip arrangement or the closed circuit track arrangement shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. If desired, additional Y fittings eliminating the ports 61 could be supplied in a toy system kit for use only in the drag strip arran gement of the track systems.

The control valve 34 has a body provided with a cylindrical flow passage 71 and is counter bored along opposite internal end portions 72 and 73 to receive the tubing sections 35 and 33, respectively which are inserted into the opposite ends of the body as shown in FIG. 10 providing an internal smooth flow passage throughout the length of the valve body. The side and bottom surface portions of the body are generally cylindrical while the body is provided with a substantially flat top surface portion 74. The top surface 74 has an opening 75 which is generally rectangular over a major portion and has a semi-circular end portion 75a formed on substantially the same radius as the cylindrical flow passage 71 in the valve body. The other end of the opening 75 has a downwardly and inwardly tapered end surface 75b. A valve plate having the same shape as the valve body opening 75 is pivotally supported along its rectangular end portion for movement in the valve body between the solid line open position represented in FIGS. 8 and 10 and the broken line closed position of FIG. 10 so that the valve is movable between positions allowing full flow through the flow passage 71 and substantially shutting off all flow through the flow passage. The rectangular end portion of the valve plate has a tapered end edge surface which generally conforms to the angle of the valve body opening surface 75b so that when the valve is closed the opening 75 is substantially shut around all of the edges. The valve plate is pivotally supported on oppositely disposed pin portions 81 which extend into correspondingly positioned aligned lateral holes in the valve body to allow the valve plate to pivot between its closed and open positions for controlling fluid flow through the passage 71. A valve operating lever 82 having a handle 83 is secured at an angle to the rectangular end portion of the valve plate for controlling the position of the valve plate. At the solid line position of the valve lever as shown in FIG. 10, the valve plate is at its full open position at which its top surface is aligned with the top surface 74 of the valve body. The valve lever is movable toward the other end of the valve body to the broken line position which revolves the valve plate 80 into and fully across the flow passage 71 to substantially shut off all flow of fluid through the passage. The shape of the valve plate 80 and the flow passage 71 at the valve are so related that the valve plate substantially fills the flow passage when the plate is disposed across the passage.

By positioning the valve at any intermediate position between its fully open and fully closed positions, the volume of the fluid through the valve directly into the toy track system is varied as desired to control the speed of the vehicle being displaced through the toy system. By varying the volume of air directed into the track system, which is of uniform diameter, it will be apparent that the rate of flow of the air in the system is varied and thus is the speed of the vehicle propelled by the air. The valve acts as a flow diverter for that portion of the air not desired in the system and, thus, it is spilled outwardly of the valve by the valve member 80, the upper surface of which direct that unwanted air through the valve body opening exterior to the atmosphere. Thus, the valve is a constant flow device in the sense that its operation does not require any variation of input and, thus, can utilize a constant volume pump, and additionally, the output of the valve is also constant though the portion of the air directed by the valve into the toy system is varied for control of the toy speed with the air not needed to propel the toy at the desired speed being diverted outwardly from the system through the valve. The valve body is supported on two longitudinally spaced generally U shaped cradles 84 which may be formed either integral with the valve body or may be separate clip-on parts. The support cradles have flat bottom edge surfaces 85 so that the valve body will rest firmly on any flat surface on which the toy system is assembled for use.

The exit winner indicator unit 50, as shown in detail in FIGS. 14-18, has a body 90 which is somewhat oval in cross-section and is provided with a pair of identical laterally spaced parallel flow passages 91 which are counter bored along opposite end portions 91a and 91b, FIG. 16. In the drag strip form of the toy system of FIG. 1, the counter bores 91 receive end portions of the tubing sections 31 as best seen in FIG. 16. A vertical plate 92 having an upwardly extending halfcircular section 92a is formed integral with the body 90 at a location about midway its opposite ends. A winner indicator or flag 93 is pivotally supported from the plate section 92a on a pin 94 for lateral movement in opposite directions to lay-down positions on each side as represented in FIG. 15. The flag is moved downwardly to the side through which the winning vehicle moves through the indicator unit.'A pair of laterally spaced generally vertical spring clips 95 are supported at opposite sides of the flag 93 and are slidable vertically in vertical laterally spaced slots 100 in the plate portion 92 of the unit body. Each of the clips has a top finger 101 which extends horizontally and longitudinally from the plane of the plate 92 somewhat beyond the fully exposed face of the flag 93 as best seen in FIG. 18 so that each finger overlaps the upper end side edge of the flag when both of the clips 95 are at their normal heights as seen in FIGS. 14 and 18 holding the flags in a vertical position. The clips 95 are made of a spring-like material and the positions of the portions of the clips in the vertical slots 100 relative to the vertical edges of the flag when it is upright are such that when both of the clips engage the flag each clip is flexed slightly outwardly thereby exerting inward side pressure through the fingers 101 against the flag. The plate 92 has longitudinally extending laterally spaced slots 102 which allow for movement of a pair of identical pivotally supported trigger 103 mounted for movement in the passages 91 between the positions illustrated in FIG. 16. The triggers each have a feeler 103a and a cam head 103 b which is engageable with the lower end of the flag clip 95 supported above the trigger. The cam heads of the triggers each are disposed in and movable in a longitudinal slot 104 in the body 90. The slots 104 are each aligned beneath a slot 100 which receive a clip 95. Each of the triggers 103 is pivotally supported on a pin 105 inserted into position through the cam head of the trigger in a hole 110 bored from the side into the body 90 intersecting the slot 104 so that the pin is inserted through the trigger can head as best seen in FIG. 14.

At the neutral upright position of the flag 93, the clips 95 and triggers 103 are in their cocked positions as presented in FIGS. 14 and 16-18. The trigger feelers 1030 are vertical in the flow passages 91 with the lower end edge surface of each clip resting on the top edge of the cam portion 103b of a trigger cam head so that the fingers 101 on'the flag clips are in vertical alignment with each other and with the top portion of the flag 93. The fingers 101 overlap the top portion of the flag and engage it as in FIG. 18 at which position each of the clips 95 is sprung slightly outwardly as evident in FIG. 14 so that each clip bears laterally inwardly against the flag applying slight lateral pressure to the flag. As both of the clips are engaging the flag and are at the same elevations exerting the same lateral pressure in opposite directions against the flag, the flag remains vertically positioned. When a vehicle moves through either or both of the flow passages in the direction of the arrow 106 toward the marked face of the flag 93 in FIG. 16, the vehicle en gages the trigger in the passage and trips it. For purposes of illustration it shall be assumed that the vehicle in the left drag strip passing through the left flow passage 91 as seen in FIGS. 14 and 15 arrives at the unit 50 first. The vehicle engages the trigger feeler 103a pivoting it on its pin moving the feeler in an are along the flow passage and upwardly as seen in FIGS. 16 thereby pivoting the cam head 103b of the trigger upwardly to the broken line position shown in FIG. 16. The upward movement of the cam head lifts the left hand flag clip 95 moving the finger 101 on the flag clip above the upper end of the left side of the flag. The upward moment of the finger on the left flag clip disengages the flag edge and the right flag clip 95 straightens out from the flexed position of FIG. 14 to the straight position of FIG. 15 applying a lateral inward force to the right side of the flag as viewed in FIGS. 14 and 15 causing the flag to be pivoted on its pin 94 laterally downwardly to the position illustrated in FIG. 15 thereby indicating that the winner of the vehicles running in the two flow passages passed through the left flow passage 91. It will be evident that if the winning vehicle had passed through the right hand flow passage, the clip on the right hand side would have been lifted by the cam head on the trigger and the left hand clip 95 would have kicked the flag to the right side thereby indicating the winner having passed through that passage, If the vehicles in both passages arrived at the triggers at exactly the same moment, both clips 95 would be lifted simultaneously and the flag would remain in its vertical position since there is sufficient tightness in the pin 94 to keep it from dropping to either side without the additional force applied from one of the clips 95.

Several vehicles which may be operated in the toy system are illustrated in FIGS. 4-6. Referring to FIG. 4, a train 110 is shown comprising a lead car or engine 1 1 l and a plurality of identical pulled cars 1 12. The engine 110 includes a body 113 having a pointed forward end 114 and supported on four wheels 115. A sail or fluid scoop is pivotally supported on the body 113 so that fluid flow from the back of the engine will lift the scoop giving the engine substantially increased surface area exposed to the fluid to facilitate driving it through the track of the toy system. A tab 120a on the scoop engages the top surface of the body 113 limiting the forward movement of the scoop to an angle which does not interfere with the forward wheels on the engine. Each of the cars 112 includes identical bodies 1 13 and wheels 115. The engine and cars are interconnected to form an articulated rain by couplings 121 comprising a clip 122 in each forward vehicle and another clip 123 interconnected with the clip 122 and secured in the forward edge of each rear vehicle. By applying the major portion of the force from the fluid to the scoop of the engine buckling is prevented or minimized between the several cars making up the train. FIG. illustrates another form of vehicle 130 having a somewhat U shaped body 131 supported on rollers 132 pivotally connected between the spaced parallel portions 131a of the body. The rollers extend above and below the body so the vehicle may operate either as shown or in the opposite position to that shown. The body has a pointed stream-lined front end portion 131b. A V shaped fluid scoop 133 is pivotally supported at its apex along a small extension 133a which is pinned between the back end portions of the spaced sections 1310 of the vehicle body. The scoop 133 provides a maximum surface area for the driving fluid to strike the vehicle 130 and is shaped and pivoted such that the vehicle operates in either of its positions to take maximum advantage of the fluid flow. The sled type vehicle 134 as shown in FIG. 6 comprises a pointed nose portion 135 and a semi-cylindrical body portion 140 with the back face of the nose portion 135a serving the function of the air scoop. All of the surfaces of the body nose portion are sloped to minimize frictional resistance to movement of the sled through the toy system track.

While any one of the vehicles illustrated and described may be used in the drag strip form 30 of the toy system, generally the vehicles 130 and 134 of FIGS. 5 and 6 will be preferred for drag racing. In operation of the drag strip system, a selected vehicle is inserted in each of the open ends of the tube sections 43a. The system is generally operated by two persons, one at each of the control valves 34. The control valves are closed by positioning the control handle 83 at the broken line position shown in FIG. so that the valve plate 80 is disposed downwardly across each flow passage 71. The fluid source 32 is turned on to provide a supply of fluid under pressure through both of its outlet tubes 33 into the control valves. Since the control valves are closed, the fluid flows into the valves in the direction illustrated by the arrow in FIG. 10 striking the closed valve plate which prevents substantially all flow through the valve flow passage. The fluid is spilled upwardly through the opening 75 in the valve body outwardly from the system in each of the valves. With the fluid being spilled from the system through both of the control valves, the fluid source 34 may be operating at its maximum capacity even with the valve plates 80 fully closed. When the valve plate 80 is moved downwardly from the solid line position of FIG. 10 to the broken line position at which the valve plate is considered closed, it moves downwardly into the flow passage 71 out of the valve body opening 75 thereby fully removing the valve plate from the valve opening to allow the fluid spillage.

When the operators desire to start the race between the vehicles, each moves his control valve lever toward the open position on the valve plate represented in the solid lines of FIG. 10 thereby allowing the fluid to flow into the track system through the passages 71. The fluid flows through the valve, through the tubing connectors 35, and into the Y fittings 40 entering each Y fitting through its insert 52 which increases the velocity of the fluid entering the fitting and effects a pressure reduction in the vehicle admission arm 42 of the fitting thus creating an aspirator effect which draws the vehicle resting in the open entrance of the tubular section 43 into the Y fitting. The vehicle is drawn into the Y fitting and rapidly accelerated when the force of the fluid flowing into the fitting through the insert 52 strikes the back surfaces of the vehicle, the member 133 of the vehicle 130 or the back side surface 135a of the nose portion of the vehicle 134. The vehicles are each rapidly accelerated through the trunk portion 144 of the Y fitting into the elongated drag strip tubing section 31. Since essentially all of the components of the toy system through which the vehicles move, especially the track sections 31, are formed of a clear material, the movements of the vehicles are observable throughout the lengths of their runs in the toy system. The rates at which the vehicles are forces by the fluid through the system are, of course, dependent upon the positions of the control valve levers. Obviously, at the solid line position of the valves in FIG. 10, the maximum crosssectional area of the flow passages 71 of the valves are available for fluid flow and the maximum volume of fluid enters the track system through each of the control valves. At intermediate positions of the control valve plates 80 a portion of the air is spilled upwardly from the valve through the body opening 75 and a portion of the air passes around the partially opened valve plate entering through the valve into the track system. With less volume of air the rate of flow is decreased and thus the vehicle being displaced along the track moves at a slower rate. Accurate control of the velocity of each vehicle is obtainable by manipulation of its control valve. Whichever of the vehicles arrives at the exit unit 50 first trips the trigger 103 in its flow passage 91 causing the winner flag 93 to be moved downwardly and laterally to the position over the flow passage through which the winning vehicle moves. Both vehicles are discharged outwardly from the toy system 30 through the flow passages 91 of the exit assembly, and, of course, a rerun may be made by resetting the controlled valve to the closed positions, resetting the flag 93, and inserting the vehicles back into the open ends of the tubing section 43.

Another form of track system embodying the invention shown in FIG. 2 provides a pair of identical closed circuit tracks with a single fluid source unit 32, two control valves 34, two Y fittings 40, and related connectors as employed in the drag strip form 30. The toy track system 150 also includes a lap counter 151 lllustrated in detail in FIGS. 19-22 and an entrance-exit unit 152 illustrated in detail in FIGS. 11-13 in each of the closed loop track section of the system. The system 150 from the fluid pressure source 32 through the Y fittings 40 includes the same components assembled in the same relationship as in the drag strip form 30. An entrance-exit unit 152 is connected by a tubing section 153 with the arm 42 of each of the Y fittings for entrance and removal of the vehicles. Identical tubular loops 154 form two closed circuit tracks connected at one end into the units 152 and at the other end into the lap counter unit. A straight tubular section 155 connects each side of the other end of the lap counter to each Y fittings. A toy vehicle is run in each of the closed track loops, individually controlled by the control valve 34 connected with the loop. The lap counter provides a visual indication of the number of times each of the vehicles traverses its particular closed loop track.

The entrance-exit unit 152 has a body 156 provided with a central flow passage 160 and is counter bored along opposite end portions 161 and 162 for coupling an end portion of the tubular loop 154 into one end of the unit and the connector tubing 153 into the other end of the unit. The side and bottom surfaces of the body 156 are essentially cylindrical surfaces while the body has a generally flat top surface 163 provided with a somewhat oval opening 164 communicating into the flow passage 160 of the body. A closure plate 165 having the same shape as the opening 164 of the unit body is supported on a laterally extending pin 170 secured at opposite ends into the body 156 and extending across through the plate 165 at its longitudinal midpoint. The plate 165 is sized relative to the opening 164 so that there is a slight binding between the plate edges and the opening edges to minimize accidental movement of the plate from its closed position. Either end of the plate may be depressed downwardly into the passage 160 through the body 156 with the other end of the plate moving upwardly in seesaw fashion to permit the admission or exit of a vehicle. When admission of the vehicle to a track loop including the unit 152 is desired, the end of the plate 165 in the direction of fluid flow in the loop is depressed downwardly and the vehicle is placed on the top surface of the plate to slide downwardly along the plate into the flow passage 160 through the unit. As soon as the vehicle is fully inserted into the unit and clear of the plate, the plate is pivoted back to its neutral closed position as shown in solid lines in FIGS. 11-13. In FIG. 13, the broken line representation of the plate indicate its capability to be pivoted in either direction on its pin 170. If the fluid movement through the passage 160 is toward the left in FIG. 13, the right end of the plate 165 may be depressed downwardly to allow the vehicle moving in the track loop to move upwardly along the top surface of the plate to exit from the loop through the right end portion of the opening 164. When the plate is closed, as it normally is during the operation of a vehicle within the track loop, the fluid flow beneath the plate tends, along with the binding fit of the plate, to keep it in its closed neutral position. The body 156 is supported on a pair of longitudinally spaced U-shaped saddles 171 which are identical to the saddles 84 on the control valve body and may be formed integral with the body 156 or as a separate clip-on fitting. The saddle has a flat bottom edge 172 to support the unit 152 on a surface on which the track system is assembled.

The lap counter 151 is illustrated in detail in FIGS. 19-22. The lap counter has a somewhat oval shaped body 180 provided with a pair of parallel laterally spaced identical bores or flow passages 181 which are counter bored along opposite end portions 182 and 183 to receive end portions of connected tubing, such as the tubing sections 154 and 155 for connecting the lap counter into the closed loop track system and providing a smooth flow passage through the lap counter between sections of the tubing. A vertical housing 184 is formed on the top of the counter body and includes a front plate 185, a back plate 190, and an edge closure panel 191. A pair of laterally spaced counter wheels 192 having peripheral sequential numerical markings as shown in FIG. 19 are mounted on gears 193 having circumferentially spaced gear teeth 194. Each gear-counter wheel unit is pivotally supported along the inside face of the panel on a pin 195. The panel 185 has a pair of laterally spaced windows 200 through which a single number is observable on each of the counters 192. A leaf spring 201 is secured along its center line to the inside face of the panel 185 with its opposite free end portions engageable with the teeth 194 on the two spaced gears 193 for biasing the gears against rotation. As shown in FIG. 21, the right gear is biased by the spring 201 against clockwise rotation while the left gear is biased against counterclockwise rotation by the end of the spring engaging its teeth. Obviously, if sufiicient force is applied to either of the gears, the spring end engaging the gear teeth is sprung upwardly allowing the gear to rotate. A momentary force rotates each gear until the spring engages the next tooth. Thus, the gears are allowed to turn but must be positively forced in their respective directions. A pair of vertically movable push rods 202 are secured in parallel spaced relationship along the inside face of the panel 185 by a bracket 203 held by screws 204. The bracket has spaced slots 205 each of which accommodates one of the rods 202. A spring 210 is secured at its midpoint by pin 21 1 to the back face of the panel 185 with the opposite free end portions of the spring each inserted through a hole in one of the rods 202 so that each of the rods is resiliently held against upward movement along the back face of the panel. The upper end of each of the rods 202 is engageable with the gear teeth on the gear 193 on the side of the unit at which the rod is positioned. The lower end of each of the rods 202 is engageable with the top face 212 of a cam head 213 on a lever 214. The lever 214 has a feeler 215 which projects into the flow passage 181 above which the lever is pivotally secured by a horizontal pin 220. The head portion 213 of each of the levers is deposed in a slot 221 which opens downwardly into the passage 181 below the slot and opens upwardly into the housing 184. Two slots 121 are provided laterally spaced to properly position a pair of levers 214 each to actuate one of the gear rods 202 for rotating a gear to turn a counter 192.

The counter unit 151 is connected into the track system positioned so that the fluid flow is in the direction of movement of the lever 214 which is from right to left as seen in FIG. 20. As a vehicle passes the vertical downwardly extending feeler 215 it engages the feeler pivoting it clockwise on its pin 220 so that the cam head 213 is revolved on the pin causing the top cam surface 212 to lift the rod 202 which rests at its lower end on the cam surface. As the rod moves upwardly it engages one of the gear teeth 194 rotating the gear one tooth distance. The spring end portion 201 engaging the gear teeth on each counter cooperates with the rod 202 moving the counter so that a rachet-like action is achieved with the counter face having the numerical markings moving one gear tooth distance each time the lever associated with the gear is engaged by a passing vehicle. After the vehicle passes leaving the feeler at its upward position as represented by broken lines in FIG. 20, the end portion of the spring 210 associated with the rod 202 returns the rod downwardly to engage a new gear tooth at its upper end and to revolve the lever 214 back to its normal vertical position. Each time a vehicle passes either of the levers 214 of the counter, the counter face associated with the lever is rotated one digit providing a sequential count observable through the window 200 in front of the counter face to show how many laps the vehicle has traversed in the loop tubing track associated with the counter.

One or the other of the closed loop tracks of the toy system 150 may be operated alone, or they both may be operated simultaneously. The particular vehicle desired is inserted into the loop through the entranceexit unit 152. Fluid flow into the loop is provided and controlled through the valve 34 associated with the loop so that the fluid flow is established in the loop to propel the vehicle continuously around the loop. In the particular track arrangement shown in FIG. 2, the vehicle in the right-hand loop moves in a counterclockwise direction while the vehicle in the left-hand loop moves in a clockwise direction. Unlike the drag strip form 30 which discharges air at each end of its tube 31 through the exit unit 50, the closed loops of the track system 150 do not have open ends for discharge of the fluid supplied to the loops, Thus, it is essential that fluid be exhausted from the loops at substantially the same rate at which it is supplied from the source 32. A particularly satisfactory arrangement for allowing the fluid to exhaust from the closed loop has been found in the use of the plurality of ports 61 in the Y fittings 40. The ports are in close proximity to and slightly downstream from the location of the introduction of the supply of fluid under pressure into the system through the Y fittings. This has proven to be a highly satisfactory location for the exhaust means from the closed loops so that maximum vehicle velocity is maintained throughout the loop while allowing the necessary air spillage or escape from the loop to permit a maximum supply of air to be constantly supplied to the loop. With this particular location of the air exhaust ports, turbulence is minimized and the flow has been found to be smooth throughout the loop track.

With a vehicle in either or both of the loops, the particular control valve associated with the loop in which the vehicle is disposed is adjusted to provide the desired input of the fluid to the loop for controlling the vehicle at the desired velocity. As each vehicle passes through the lap counter unit 151, the movement of the vehicle is indicated on the counter representing that the vehicle has traversed the loop track once for each indication shown on the counter unit. It will be evident, of course, that the vehicle only passes along a short portion of the track when going through the counter unit for the first time since the vehicle is introduced into the track through the unit 152 and moves along the Y fitting into the counter unit before beginning a full lap. This evident error may be compensated for by positioning the counter for each loop at one digit prior to the zero marking on the counter so that after the vehicle passes the counter the first time the counter will register complete laps of the vehicle, considering the counter unit as the starting point of the lap. When removal of the vehicle from either loop is desired, it is done through the entrance-exit unit 152 as previously discussed in detail. Since essentially all of the parts of the track system are transparent with the exception, perhaps of portions of the counter unit and other functional units such as the Y fittings and the entrance-exit units, the movements of the vehicles over substantially the entire length of the tracks are observable by the operator or operators of the toy system.

It will be evident that, if desired, the flag unit 50 may be incorporated in the dual closed loop track system by connecting the adjacent parallel portions of the two loops through the unit 50 in the same manner as they are shown connected through the lap counter 151. In this way, vehicles may be raced against each other in the two loops with the winner being indicated by the position of the flag, as previously discussed.

A still further form of track arrangement 220 embodying the invention is illustrated in FIG. 3. The same basic components are used as in the other track systems with the exception of the lap counter and flag units though it will be evident that the tubing in the system 220 could be connected through one side of the lap counter simply to indicate the number of laps traversed by a vehicle in the track system. In the track system 220 the fluid pressure source 32 is connected with a Y fitting 221 which is coupled to the fluid source 32 to receive fluid under pressure from both of its outlets and discharge the fluid through a single exit portion 221a into the control valve 34 from which the fluid flows through a tubing connector 35 into the inlet arm 41 of the Y fitting 40. The outlet trunk portion 44 of the Y fitting is connected to one end of the long flexible tubing section 222 which is connected at its other end to a female type short tubing connector 223 having opposite end fema1e-type connection portions such as the counter bores in the body sections of the control valve and the extrance-exit unit 152. Another tubing section 224 is connected at one end into the coupling 223 and at its other end into the arm 42 of the Y fitting 40. An entrance-exit unit 152 and a connecting tubing section 153 are provided between the tubing section 224 and the arm 42 of the Y fitting 40 so that the vehicles may be admitted into and removed from the track arrangement without the necessity of disassemblying it.

The track system 220 is operated in the same manner as the other track systems, its only distinction from the others being that it is a single closed loop system provided with the full discharge capacity of both discharge outlets from the fluid pressure supply source 32, and, further, it provides a long, more intricate configuration for the track system. When a fairly flexible plastic is used for the transparent tubing portions, particularly the tubing sections 222 and 224, the track arrangement may be twisted into a number of different arrangements at different elevations as desired by the person operating the system.

The fluid pressure source 32 has been represented as a basically simple air blower having a dual outlet since such unit may be manufactured relatively inexpensively and packaged with the toy system so that it is not necessary that it be dependent upon other power sources. However, it will be recognized that a track arrangement such as is shown in FIG. 3, may be readily supplied with air under pressure from the exhaust end of a tank type vacuum clean; or with the proper fitting for connection with a source of water, such as the garden hose, it may be supplied with water under pressure. The dual track system as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 also may be supplied with either air under pressure from a vacuum cleaner or water from a garden hose by the use of a simple Y- fitting where the trunk of the Y is connected with the air or water source and the related arms of the fitting are connected with the control valves 34 thereby supplying both portions of the track systems either in the drag strip arrangement or the dual closed loop arrangement with fluid under pressure from a single common source. It will also be evident that numerous other forms of vehicles may be used so long as they have sufficient surface area to be propelled by the flow of air or water and are of a size which will permit them to be introduced into the tubing forming the track systems. It will also be evident that while the most practical and economical form of conduit is commercially available plastic tubing in standard gauges, the toy system could be constructed of conduit having a square cross section though fittings would be more difficult and the flexibility to change the configuration of the especially longer tubing sections would be essentially limited.

It will now be seen that a new and improved toy system has been provided including track comprising transparent conduit arrangeable in a plurality of different configurations including both straight drag strip track sections and closed continuous loops. The transparent character of the track system provides a means which may utilize either air or water as a vehicle propelling fluid while permitting constant observation of the vehicle propelling fluid while permitting constant observation of the vehicle movement when operating the toy system. The track system is supplied with vehicle propelling fluid through one or more control valves which have a fluid spillage or splitting arrangement whereby the pump supplying the fluid under pressure to the system may operate at full capacity and may be either a centrifugal or a positive displacement type pump since the valve diverts or spills from the system any fluid received by it which is not to be directed into the track for propelling the vehicle. The system also includes a novel Y fitting for introducing the fluid into the system and permitting constant fluid spillage or leakage from the system especially for use in the closed loop forms of the track of the system. The toy system also includes a flag unit for indicating the winning vehicle when two vehicles are being raced in certain track forms. Additionally, the system includes a lap counter so that particularly in the closed circuit track forms, the number of laps traversed by one or more vehicles may be recorded.

What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:

l. A fluid operated toy system for propelling a member along a track comprising: a track system of selected configuration comprising a transparent conduit permitting observation of movement of said member along said track, said track system having means providing a fluid inlet thereto and a fluid outlet therefrom; control valve means connected with said track system for controlling fluid flow into said system; said valve means being a constant flow-type valve havsaid valve means and said track system for directing the discharge of fluid from said valve means into said track system and said fitting including means for accelerating the fluid flow into said-system, and fluid spillage means providing a fluid outlet from said system downstream from said control valve means and at the inlet to said track system from said valve means.

3. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said track means comprises parallel drag strip track sections, each of said sections being provided with one of said control valve means for independent control of fluid flow into each of said drag strip sections whereby movable members in each of said sections may be raced against each other along said drag strip sections.

4. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 3 including a Y fitting between said valve means and each of said drag strip sections, the trunk portion of said Y fitting being connected with the inlet end of said drag strip section, said Y fitting having a first arm portion connected with said control valve means for directing fluid flow into said drag strip section, and said Y fitting having a second arm portion having an open end for insertion of a movable member into said fitting for introduction through said fitting into said drag strip section.

5. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 5 including a flag unit connected with said drag strip sections at the outlet ends thereof for indicating a winner between the movable members moving along said sections, said unit being adapted to be actuated by said members moving through said drag strip sections to operate an indicator device for showing which of said members arrived at said flag unit first.

6. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 4 including fluid accelerating means in said first arm of said Y fitting.

7. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said track system comprises a closed loop; a fluid conducting Y fitting included in said closed loop connecting said loop with said control valve means, said Y fitting having a trunk portion provided with air spillage means connected with an inlet portion of said closed loop and having a first inlet arm connected with said control valve directing fluid flow into said Y fitting and second arm connected with an end portion of said closed loop whereby said second arm and said trunk portion close said loop to provide a continuous track for movement of said member.

8. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 7 including fluid accelerating means in said first arm of said Y fitting.

9. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 7 wherein said closed loop includes an entranceexit unit having a valve plate to admit said member to said closed loop and to permit exit to said member from said closed loop.

10. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 9 wherein said track system includes two said closed loop tracks each including identical fluid flow control valves and Y fittings connecting said loops with said source of fluid pressure and permitting independent control of the movement of a member along each of said closed loops.

11. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 9 including a lap counter connected with said closed loops permitting movement of said movable members through said counter for indicating the number of times the movable member in each of said loops has traversed said loop.

12. A fluid operated toy system in accordance with claim 1 wherein said valve means includes a body having a central flow passage communicating with said track system and through which said member is movable, said body having an opening into said central flow passage along a side of the said valve means, and a valve plate pivotally supported for movement between a full open position at which said valve plate is disposed in said opening permitting full flow through said central flow passage of said valve means and preventing fluid escape from said flow passage and a second fully closed position at which said valve plate is disposed across said central flow passage precluding fluid flow through said flow passage and diverting fluid flow outwardly from said track system through said opening, fluid flow through said central flow passage being apportioned at intermediate positions of said valve plate whereby one portion of said fluid flow continues through said central flow passage and another portion of said fluid flow is diverted from said central flow passage through said opening for varying the rate of movement of said member through said track system.

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U.S. Classification463/60, 406/34, 463/64, 406/36, 446/180, 446/178, 104/155
International ClassificationA63H18/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H18/002, A63H18/005
European ClassificationA63H18/00B, A63H18/00C