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Publication numberUS3708116 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 2, 1973
Filing dateJul 23, 1970
Priority dateJul 23, 1970
Also published asDE3708116A1
Publication numberUS 3708116 A, US 3708116A, US-A-3708116, US3708116 A, US3708116A
InventorsA Woodward
Original AssigneeMattel Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Curve accessory usable with track system for toy wheeled vehicles
US 3708116 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 1 Woodward 1 Jan. 2, 1973 541 CURVE ACCESSORY USABLE WITH 3,480,210 11 1969 P errinjaquet ..238/l0 E TRACK SYSTEM FOR TOY WHEELED 2,551,317 5 1951 1 Damiano ..104 53 1,828,536 10/1931 Koerber ..238/l0 E VEHICLES 3,445,063 5/1969 Ferentinos ..238/l0 F Inventor: Arthur S. Woodward,,Sylmar, Calif.

Assignee: Mattel, Inc., Hawthorne, 'Calif.

Filed: July 23, 1970 Appl. Noic 57,597

US. CL. ..238/l0 E Int. Cl. ..A63h 18/02, A63h 19/30 Field of,Search..46/l, 26; 238/10 R, 10 A-l0 F;

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Primary ExaminerGerald M. Forlenza Assistant ExaminerRichard A. Bertsch Attorney-Seymour A. Scholnick [57] ABSTRACT This is a curve accessory for a track system usable with toy wheeled vehicles which serves to produce a curve in the track system and thereby change the direction of travel of vehicles traversing the track. According to one embodiment, the curve accessory utilizes a length of flexible track and-includes a track retaining fixture defining a banked curve and having track supports which serve to secure the flexible length of track to the track retaining fixture.

9 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures CURVE ACCESSORY USABLE WITH TRACK SYSTEM FOR TOY WHEELED VEHICLES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION systems intended for use with toy vehicles having freely rotatable or rolling wheels are available in the prior art. Such prior art curve accessories are generally 3 typified by unitary construction wherein the curve is provided by a single integrally formed unit which is molded or otherwise shaped to form the desired curved portion of a track system. These integrally formed units have generally been fabricated with synthetic materials, such as plastics, or with suitable metals and have been fashioned to provide a variety of curves having different preselected curvature radii and vertical dimensions. A major disadvantage of this technique is the necessity of relatively expensive and elaborate tooling and complicated production procedures.

Current track systems have employed sections of flexible track which may be joined together by tabs or track securing members which are fitted to the underside of the end portions of abutting sections of track.

When the aforementioned prior art curve accessories are employed with the presently available flexible track sections, it is clear that the track surface provided by the curve accessory will be different from the surface of the remainder of the track system due to the method used in the fabrication of the curve accessory. This difference in surfaces oftentimes has a degrading effect on the operation of a toy wheeled vehicle on the track system due to the lack of a uniform track surface.

The manufacture of prior art curve accessories can be expensive due to the size of the molded structure and can be difficult due to the necessity of predetermining the optimum lateral slant or bank of a curved portion of track. The failure to provide the track with the appropriate lateral slant frequently results in a toy wheeled vehicle, traversing the track system, leaving the track surface.

Such disadvantages associated with the prior art devices are overcome by the present invention wherein a curve or direction changing accessory allowing greater adaptability in use is provided.

. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide a curve accessory for toy wheeled vehicle track systems which provides a uniform track surface having a common construction throughout.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a direction changing accessory for toy wheeled vehicle track systems which is simple and inexpensive to manufacture, and which uses standard linear sections of elongated flexible track to form a banked curve configuration.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide a curve accessory for toy wheeled vehicle track systems which allows a user to adjust the lateral slant or bank of a curve, even to a bank angle exceeding Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a curve accessory for toy wheeled vehicle track systems having considerable play and amusement value and including a stunt portion whereat toy vehicles traversing this portion tend to defy gravity.

These and other objects are provided by the present invention which may be briefly described as a looping direction changing track system accessory.

More particularly, the present invention may include a track retaining fixture having a plurality of suitably placed vertical track supports which serve to secure a flexible section of track to the track retaining fixture in a banked configuration such that the direction of travel of a toy wheeled vehicle traversing a track system is provided with a maximum of vehicle stability.

The features of the present invention which are believed to be novel are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters refer to like elements in the several views.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is an isometric diagram illustrating a top view of a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an isometric diagram illustrating a side, partial cross-sectional view of a first embodiment of the present invention taken along the line22 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a first embodiment of the present invention taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an isometric diagram illustrating a top partially fragmented view of a section of flexible track as secured by vertical track securing member.

FIG. 5 is an isometric diagram illustrating a top view of a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of a second embodiment of the present invention taken along the line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

FIG. '7 is a side elevational view of still another embodiment of the invention wherein individual track supports are utilized.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the present invention generally includes an elongated flexible section of track 10 and a track retaining fixture 12. The flexible section of track 10, like all other sections of track thatmay be used in a track system, is fabricated to have an upper surface 14 having a pair of longitudinal railings l6 and 18 for retaining toy wheeled vehicles along the upper surface 14 when such toy vehicles are traversing the track system and the curve accessory. A lower surface 20 of the flexible track 10 is fabricated to have a pair of identical longitudinally extending L'shaped sections 22 and 24 which serve to define an undercut or T-shaped channel, the purpose of which will be hereinafter explained.

The flexible section of track may be made with any appropriate metal or with any of the well known synthetic materials that will produce a flexible elon gated structure that is capable of being easily twisted and manipulated at least in a fashion illustrated by FIGS. 1 and 2. Although several types of such track structures are currently available, the preferred track or roadway construction is fully described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,487,999 which is assigned to the assignee of the present invention.

The track retaining fixture 12, which may also be fabricated with any appropriate material such as a metal or one of the well known synthetics, is configured to have a base 25 which will provide a desired degree of change of direction. In the embodiment illustrated by FIGS. 1 and 2, a 180 curve, or what is often referred to as a horseshoe curve, is provided. A plurality of suitably placed vertical track supports 26, 28 and 30 are located on the base 25 for the purpose of securing a section of flexible track 10 to the base 25.

Referring to FIG. 2, the centrally located vertical track support 28 is shown to include a post 32 having the lower portion thereof secured to the base 25, a cantilevered extension 34 secured at one end to the upper portion of the post 32, and a track securing member 36 which may take any appropriate shape such as that of a button. In the case of a button or circular shape, the diameter of the track securing member 36 should be essentially the same as the lateral internal dimension of the channel formed by the L-shaped sections 22 and 24 on the lower surface of the flexible track 10 such that the track securing member 36 may be easily slid or otherwise inserted into the earlier mentioned channel.

As can be seen from the figure, the track securing member 36 is disposed in a plane parallel to a plane described by the broad surface of the section of track 10 at the particular location of the post 32. Thus, a bank angle exceeding 90 may be provided and supported, as seen in FIG. 2, where the bending of the track 10 to a desired curve causes a twisting of the track due to the natural flexure characteristics thereof. This configuration simulates daring inverted vehicle operation and provides a very interesting and exciting toy since only vehicles exceeding a certain velocity will be able to sustain their operation on the track. It can be stated further that the operation of toy vehicles over this convoluted portion of conventional flexible track results in a gravity defying stunt which creates considerable play value and amusement for participants.

Referring to FIG. 3, the vertical track supports 26 and 30 which may be generally located at the start and finish of a curve are similarly fashioned to have a post 38 with a lower portion secured to the base and a track securing member 40 attached to the upper portion of the post 38.

It is to be noted that the post 32 of the centrally placed track support 28 is longer or taller than the post 38 of the side-placed track supports 26 and 30. This difference in length similar to the bank angle configuration, is for the purpose of accommodating the natural configuration of the section of flexible track 10 when twisted to form a 180 curve or turn.

In order that the respective track supports 26, 28 and are capable of being adjusted to somewhat modify the lateral slant or bank of the flexible track 10 secured thereto, the post 32 and cantilevered extension 34 of the track support 28 and the post 38 of the track supports 26 and 30 may be constructed to be maleable or otherwise capable of being twisted or bent.

As earlier mentioned, the flexible track 10 is retained on the track retaining fixture 12 in a twisted curve producing configuration by the track supports 26, 28 and 30. Referring to FIG. 4 and track support 26, having track securing member 40, as an example, it can be observed that the button-shaped track securing member 40, when inserted into the channel formed by the L-shaped members 22, 24, will retain the flexible track 10 on the base 12. If the respective track securing members are slid into the track channel then, each of the track supports 26, 28 and 30 would be sequentially attached to the flexible track 10.

Referring now to FIG. 5, a second embodiment of the present invention is illustrated as including a curve wherein a section of flexible track 10 is retained on a track retaining fixture 42, that is shaped to form a 90 curve, by a plurality of suitably placed track supports 44, 46 and 48.

As shown by FIG. 6, the centrally-placed track support 46 is again taller than the side-placed track supports 44 and 48 and includes a post 50 having a lower portion secured to a base 52 of the fixture 42 and an upper portion having mounted thereon a cantilevered extension 54 bearing a track securing member 56. Notably, the track support 46 is designed to accommodate the flexible track 10 when twisted to form a 90 curve and therefore the track securing member 56 is adapted to maintain the upper surface 14 of the track 10 in essentially a vertical position at the point where the track 10 is secured by the track support 46.

The side-placed track supports 44 and 48 are identical in construction to the track support 26 illustrated by FIG. 3 and therefore will not be again described in detail.

In the previously described embodiments, a base 25 was utilized for the purpose of locating the plurality of track supports. However, as seen in FIG. 7, the invention also contemplates the use of a plurality of individual vertical track supports 61, each including a post 63 with a lower portion 65 having an adhering or adhesive undersurface 67 to secure the supports 61 at desired locations on a surface 69 such as a floor, for example. Thus, it can be seen that the surface 69 can be thought of as an equivalent to the aforementioned base 25. In all other respects the supports 61 are similar to the vertical track supports 26 and 30, with a track securing member 71 attached to the upper portion of the post 63 at a predetennined angle with respect to the horizontal plane.

It is to be understood that although the embodiments hereinabove discussed relate to and 90 curves, respectively, that curves producing other desirable degrees of change of direction may be readily fabricated using the teachings of the present invention.

While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been described, it is clear that numerous modifications and other embodiments may be made within the skill of the ordinary engineer and with the exercise of inventive faculties. Accordingly, the scope of this invention is defined by the following claims.

What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus defining a curved roadway for miniature toy vehicles, comprising:

a base coextensive with said curve;

a plurality of supports secured to said base to extend upwardly therefrom and arranged in spaced relation along said curve; r

a section of resiliently flexible trackway having an elongated flat portion when unstressed defining an upper surface for supporting a vehicle, a bottom surface and upstanding flanges along the edges of said upper surface for guiding a toy vehicle therealong:

each of said supports having track engaging means adjacent its upper end and provided with a generally flat surface inclined at an angle to the horizontal, the angle of inclination of each of said last named surfaces being different from the angle of inclination of the surface on an adjacent support; and

interengaging means on said track engaging means and on said bottom surface of said trackway holding said bottom surface in abutment with said inclined surfaces whereby to hold said trackway to a flexed and curved contour.

2. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said track support member includes a cantilevered portion adjacent said track securing end.

3. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said base member is curved to provide a ninety degree change of direction in the travel of a toy wheeled vehicle traversing the upper face portion of the track.

4. Apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said base member is curved to provide a one hundred eighty degree change of direction in the travel of a toy wheeled vehicle traversing the upper face portion of the track.

5. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said track section is mounted to at least one support causing a portion of an upper surface of said track section to be vertically disposed.

6. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said track section is mounted to at least one support causing a portion of an upper surfaceof said track section to be in an inverted position.

7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said track engaging means are adjustable to selectively vary the degree of flex of the track section.

8. Apparatus defining a curved roadway for miniature toy vehicles, comprising:

a base coextensive with said curve;

a plurality of supports secured to said base to extend upwardly therefrom and arranged in spaced relation along said curve;

a section of resiliently flexible trackway having an elongated flat portion when unstressed defining an upper surface for supporting a vehicle, a bottom surface and upstanding flanges along the edges of said upper surface for guiding a toy vehicle therealong;

each of said supports having track engaging means adjacent its upper end and provided with a generally flat surface inclined at an angle to the horizontal, the angle of inclination of each of said last named surfaces being different from the angle of inclination of the surface on an adjacent supinfe ft e rigaging means on said track engaging means and on said bottom surface of said trackway holding said bottom surface in abutment with said inclined surfaces whereby to hold said trackway to a flexed and curved contour; said bottom surface of said trackway including a pair of opposed L-shaped longitudinally extending sections defining an undercut T-zshaped channel along the length of the track, said interengaging means comprising opposed edge portions on said track in the undercut portions of said channel. a 9. Apparatus according to claim 8, wherein said track engaging means is a flat circular portion having a diameter dimension approximately that of the lateral dimension of the undercut channel of the track.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4519789 *Sep 30, 1983May 28, 1985Mattel, Inc.Combined jump means and toy vehicle with simulated stunt hoop
US4600189 *Apr 11, 1984Jul 15, 1986Lifeing, Inc.Multi-function exercise system
US6170754Feb 10, 1998Jan 9, 2001Mattel, Inc.Spiral ramp for toy vehicles
US7690964May 4, 2007Apr 6, 2010Mattel, Inc.Toy ramp devices
US8342903Apr 26, 2010Jan 1, 2013Mattel, Inc.Adjustable toy vehicle track intersection assemblies
US8608527Aug 29, 2011Dec 17, 2013Mattel, Inc.Wall mounted toy track set
US8944882Dec 16, 2013Feb 3, 2015Mattel, Inc.Wall mounted toy track set
Classifications
U.S. Classification238/10.00E
International ClassificationG03G15/20, G03G15/00, A63H18/02
Cooperative ClassificationG03G15/2003, G03G15/50, A63H18/02, G03G15/80
European ClassificationG03G15/50, G03G15/80, G03G15/20H, A63H18/02