US 3712615 A
A lap counter assembly for use in a toy racing set wherein several toy vehicles race along the same wide track and can pass one another, for indicating the number of laps traversed by each of the several vehicles. The counter assembly includes a track region which narrows from a multi-lane width to a single lane width, and several counters which have trip members which can be struck by vehicles to advance the counts, wherein the trip members are located at different lateral positions across the width of the single lane track region. An attachment is provided for each vehicle, which includes an upwardly projecting member for moving one of the trip members to register a count as the vehicle passes by it, the projections on the different vehicles located at different lateral positions thereon so that each projection engages a different trip member.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 91 Staats et al.
MULTIPLE TOY VEHICLE LAP COUNTER  Inventors: William A. Staats, Torrance; Denis V. Bosley, Palos Verdes Peninsula; John S, Cook, Sunnyvale; Toshlo Yamasaki, Gardena, all of Calif.  Assignee: Mattel, lhc., Hawthorne, Calif.
 Filed: Dec. 10, 1970  Appl. N0.: 96,808
521 US. c1 ..273/86 R, 46/1 K, 235/98 B, 104/60, 116/120  Int. Cl. ..A63f.9/l4  Field of Search ..273/86 R, 86 B, 86 C, 86 D, I 273/86 E; 235/98 R, 98 B; 209/80, 90; 198/32; 238/10 R, 10 F; 104/60; 46/1 K  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,036,603 4/1936 Pallada ..273/86 B 2,753,975 7/1956 Day etal. ..198/32 3,228,600 1/1966 May ..273/86 R X 3,466,043 9/1969 McRoskey et a1. ..273/86 B Jan.23,1973
FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,356,440 2/1964 France ..273/86 R Primary Examiner-Anton O. Oechsle Attorney-Seymour A. Scholnick  ABSTRACT A lap counter assembly for use in a toy racing set wherein several toy vehicles race along the same wide track and can pass one another, for indicating the number of laps traversed by each of the several vehicles. The counter assembly includes a track region which narrows from a multi-lane width to a single lane width, and several counters which have trip members which can be struck by vehicles to advance the counts, wherein the trip members are located at different lateral positions across the width of the single lane track region. An attachment is provided for each vehicle, which includes an upwardly projecting member for moving one of the trip members to register a count as the vehicle passes by it, the projections on the different vehicles located at different lateral positions thereon so that each projection engages a different trip member.
3 Claims, 18 Drawing Figures 1 MULTIPLE TOY VEHICLE LAP COUNTER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention:
This invention relates to apparatus for use with toy vehicles to sense their passage.
2. Description of the Prior Art:
Toy vehicle races are often run along small track layouts, so that a long race is conducted by extending it over many laps of the layout. Where each vehicle runs along a different track, the number of laps traversed can be counted by a lap counter that has a trip member at that track. However, in races where several vehicles run along the same wide track and may pass one another, difficulties are experienced in counting the passes of each vehicle independently of the others.
OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION can be used in a track layout-wherein several vehicles race along the same wide track, to indicate the laps traversed by each of the vehicles. The apparatus includes a track section which narrows from a wide region which can carry at least two vehicles side-by -side to anarrow region-which is only slightly wider than a vehicle, to fix the position at which vehicles pass. Several lap counters are provided which have trip members, each of which can be hit by a vehicle to register acount in one of thelap counters. The trip members ar,e laterally spaced from each other and are located above the narrow track region. The vehicles a are provided with projections that can engage a trip member at a particular position tov register a count, the projecting member on each vehicle located at a different position than the projecting members on the other vehicles. I
- In order to prevent jamming of vehicles if two of them reach the narrowing, or funneljng track region at the same time, the funneling track region has one side rail'which can resiliently deflect away from the other. A stop is provided in front of the resiliently mounted side rail to stop a vehicle which has pushed aside the resilient rail, so the other one can pass ahead-of it. After the other vehicle has passed, the resilient rail pushes the stopped vehicle away from the stop so it can continue through the funneling region to the single lane track region.
. The'projection for each vehicle is a wire that has a lower end pivotallymounted on the vehicle, a center portion held between a pair of posts to fix the position of the projection, and an upper portion extending above the vehicle for hitting one of the trip members of a counter. A child can move the projection so it. lies between any one of several pairs of posts to set'it to activate any one of several counters.
The novel features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention will be best understood from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a perspective view of a lap counting apparatus constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
' FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. 1 showing the apparatus when several cars approach it at about the same time;
FIG. 3 is ,an end view of the counter apparatus taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view showing a pair of lap counters of the counter assembly of FIG 1, this Figure being taken on the line 4-4 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a sectional top view of one of the counters of FIG. 4, taken on the line 5-5 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a view taken on the line 6-6 of FIG. 5',
FIG. 7 is a plan view of one of the activating attachments of the vehicle shown in FIG. 2;,
FIG. 8 is a partial side elevation view of the activating attachment of FIG. 7 on a vehicle;
FIG. 8A is a sectional front view of a projection guiding device which can be used with the counter apparatus of FIG. I;
FIG. 9 is-a partial plan view of a counter apparatus constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, for indicating the completion of a race;
FIG. 10 is a partial perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 9;- Y
FIG. 11 is a plan view of a lap counting apparatus constructed in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention;
FIG. I2 is a sectional view taken on the line 12-42 of'FIG. ll;
FIG. 13 isa sectional view taken on the line I313 ofFIG. 12; a I
FIG. 14 is a partial perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 11;
FIG. 15 is a side elevation view of one lap counting mechanism of the type shown in' FIG. 13;
FIG. 16 is a view taken on the line 16-l 6 of FIG. 15; I
FIG. 17 is a view of the mechanism of FIG. 16 shown during the counting of a lap.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIG. I illustrates lap counting apparatus I0 which counts the number of passes made by each of four toy vehicles which run in a race along a wide track 12, the track 12 being constructed to allow vehicles to assume a wide range of lane positions so that they can pass one another. The lap counting apparatus 10 includes four lap counters 14, 16, I8 and 20 which are held in a frame 22 and which display counts through each of four windows labeled 1 through 4. Each of the counters has a main or number wheel 24 which can be turned until a 0 count is displayed through the corresponding window. To begin a race, the toy vehicles can be started simultaneously on the track layout. Either self- 3" propelled toy vehicles of the type which have a selfcontained battery and motor can be used, or unpowered vehicles canbe used together with an accelerating device placed in series with the layout. Once the vehicles have started along the layout, they are allowedto run around it many times, each vehicle advancing the count in one of the fourcounters eachtime whose lap counter reachesja predetermined countsuch as twenty, indicating that that vehicle has traversed twenty laps around the layout, is considered to be the winner of the race. 1
In order to allow the four counter's to discriminate so I that each counts only the passes madeby one of the. four vehicles, theapparatus is provided with a single vehicle guide means in the form of a funneling track region 26 which has side rails 28 and 30 that direct all vehicles moving in the direction of arrow 32 to a single predetermined lane position at track region 32. As
.shown in FIG. 3, each of the four counters 1 4, 16, 18' and 20 have'a trip member 34, 36, 38 and 40 laterallyspaced'from one another above the narrow track region 32.- As shown in FIG. 2, each vehicle 42, 44, 46
. and 48 has a projection 50 extending upwardly therefrom which can engage one of the trip members to register a count in one of the four counters. The projec- .tion 50 on each vehicle extends at a different'lateral position with respect to the vehicle thanthe projections on the'othe'r vehicles,'so' that each projection engages only apreselected one of the four triplevers. Thus, as
eachyehicle passes through the lap counting apparatus the'track being substantially mirror-images of each other, so a description of one mechanism 14 will largely I apply to the others. The number wheel 24, which is best shown inFlG. 5, carriesthe numbers through on it which are displayed through'the' window '52. Prior to a racegfthe wheel may be turned in the directio n of arrow "54' until thenumberfl'is displayed through the window. Rotation'of thewheel 24win ds a spring 56' which will later advance the wheelin a direction opposite toar'row 54 each timethetrip member 34 is pivoted by a passing vehicleJThe tripmember'34 operates an escapement 58 that allows the spring to advance the number whee by 1/2lst'turn every time the lever is'pivoted. K
As shown inF-IG. 4, thenumberwheel 24 is fixed to a shaft 60 whose upperand lower ends are pivotally mountedon the frame 22 of the apparatus. .T he wheel has 21 ratchetimem bers 62 spaced along a region near. itscircumferehce, which interact with pawl members on a lever 64 to advance the wheel in steps. The lever 64 is pivotally mounted on trun ions 66,, 68 engaged with the frame 22,'and the trip member 34 is fixed 'to v the lever 64. Each time a 'vehicle moves the trip member 34* forward and releases it, the lever- 64 pivots i it passes the. lap counting apparatus. The first vehicle and allows pawl members to advance the wheel 24 by one count. ,The spring 56 which drives the wheel has one end 70 fixed to the wheel and another end 72 biased against the lever .64 to urge the lever to remain in a position wherein the trip member 34 thereon extends straight down. v
FIG. 6 illustrates the two pawl members 74, 76 which release the wheel 24 in steps The lever 64 is normally 1 held in a position wherein the pawl member 76 is upward and engaged with oneof the ratchets 62, while the I other pawlmember74 isnormally downward anddis count, while pawl 74moves upward toprevent thewheel from rotating more than about one-half of the distance required to record a count. As soon as the .the pin. An upper end portion 112 of theactivating' vehicle has passed by and released the trip member 34,
the lever pivots back to its original position and the wheel 24 rotat e's another half of the distance required to register thenew count." FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an'activating attachment 90 which can beattached to a vehicle-42 to enable it to register a count on one of the four lap counters. The at tachment includes a plate 92 with brackets94 at the forward end that engage side walls of the vehicle 42 to hold the attachmentin'place. The plate 92"has a center pin 96 and four'sets of-p'osts 98, 100, 102 and 104. The projection, or activating member which'is provided is in the form of a stiff wire with an inner end 108 encircling the pin 96 in' a manner to allow it to pivot about the pin. A center portion 110 of .the activating member is held between one of the pairs'of posts such as pair 98, to fix the position 'of the activating member 50 about member extends to a height above the height of the vehicle. it is this end 112 which brushesby one of the trip members of a counter to register a count. When the activating'mernber 50 is between the posts 98,. it engages the trip member34 of lap counter.l4. A child can bend up the activating member 50 so it lies above posts 98 and place it between another one of the four pairs of I posts so that the vehicle passes are registeredon a'different one of the four counters. Generally, when four vehicles are to be raced, the activating m eniberof each vehicle is assigned to adifferent positiontojactivate a different one of the four lap counters. Theposition of the upper end portion 112 canbe more definitely fixed,
if there. is a possibility'of it hitting the wrongtrip member,'by a guide assembly 111 of the'type shown in If each of the toy-'vehicles were to'reachthe tunnel track section 26 at a difi'erent time, then each could smoothly enter 'thesingle lane track section 327 where counts areregistered However, it sometimes occurs thattwo vehicles reach the funnel region 26 ina sideby-side relationship. This could lead to the two vehicles rest of it free to bend with respect to the track. Another strip 124 located outside of the usual position of the resilient strip 120 limits the amount of outward movement of the strip 120. A stop 126 is positioned downpath from the resilient strip 120 and to one side of it, so that a vehicle can hit the stop 126 only if it has deflected the strip 120 a substantial distance.
FIG. 2 illustrates the situation where two vehicles 44 and 46 start moving down the funneling region side-byside. One of the vehicles 46 will deflect the resilient strip 120, which'provides an additional track width so that one vehicle 44 can pass the other. In addition, the vehicle 46 which presses against the strip 120 may be shoved sidewardly far enough to hit the stop 126 and be prevented from traveling any further towards the counting apparatus until the other vehicle 44 has passed by it. When the vehicle 44 has passed the other vehicle 46, the strip 120 deflects the vehicle 46 back towards the center of the .track so that it is no longer stopped by the stop 126. To further prevent jam-ups, a layer 128 of material with a high coefficient of friction against the vehicle is disposed against the inner face of the stop 120. The material at 128 which may be felt or the like, tends to retard forward movement of the vehicle which'presses against it, to allow the other vehicle to pass. In many cases, the layerl28 slows the vehicle which it contacts sufficiently to sweep it back into the center of the track without striking the stop 126.
In some cases, it is desirable to provide an easily observable indicator that shows when one of the four counters has reached a predetermined count, such as twenty, indicating that the race is over. FIGS. 9 and illustrate a lap counter assembly constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, which includes four flags 140, 142, 144 and 146 which can be suddenly raised to indicate the end of a race. Each: flag is mounted at the end of a spring wire 148 that tends to raiseit to an upright position. However, each flag is normally held below one of the number wheels 150. When a number wheel has reached a position wherein a predetermined number such as shows throughthe viewing window, a recess 152 of that wheel is in a position above one of the flags. The flag is then released to pop up. The sudden raising of a checkered flag to indicate the winner of a race provides a display many actual races, to enhance the entertainment provided by the race.
FIGS.' 11 through 17 illustrate a lap counter constructed in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, which utilizes four tapes 160, 162, 164 and 166 each having the numbers 0 through 99 printed thereon. Each tape' extends from a supply wheel 168 to a take-up wheel 170, in a path that brings it beneath a window 172. The number'showing through each window 172 indicates the number of laps traversed by one of the vehicles. Each take-up wheel 170 is urged to turn by a spring 174, to wind the tape on itself. A stop 176 prevents advancement of the tape except when a vehicle hits a trip member 178, and the mechanism then allows thetape to advance only farenough to display the next number through the window 172. I
As shown in FIG. 14, each tape, such as tape 160, has elongated slots or perforations 180 spaced therealong, to facilitate its engagement with the stop 176. The trip member 178 is pivotally mounted on the lap counter frame 184 by trunions 186 formed at one end of the trip member. When a vehicle hits the trip member 178, the trip member pivots so that an operating portion 188 thereon passes upwardly through a slot 190 in the frame. The operating portion 188 lifts the tape over the stop 176 so that the tape is then free to advance in the direction of arrow 192 towards the take-up wheel.
As the tape advances, the next slot moves under a holding member 194. The fact that the tape is held in a raised position by the trip member means that the slot 180 is received in the holding member 194. The holding member 194 then prevents any further advancement of the tape.
After the vehicle has passed by the trip member 178, the trip member falls back to its original position, and it allows the tape 160 to also fall down towards its original position. The slot 180 then disengages from the holding member 194 and can move towards the stop 176. As soon as the slot 180 reaches the stop 176, it falls over'the stop 176 and is thereafter prevented from further advancement. Theperforations 180 are spaced from one another along the length of the tape by the same distance as the numbers 0 through 99 printed on the tape. Thus, every time a new slot 180 reaches the stop 176, a new number shows through the window 172.
FIG. 11 illustrates the lap counter at the end of a race. It should be noted that three of the windows 172 have numbers showing through them indicating the number of laps traversed by corresponding vehicles. However, a fourth window l72c has acheckered portion showing therethrough. The checkered portion is printed on the tape at a position after the number 99. A checkered portion is utilized instead of the number 100 to more closely simulate the showing of a checkered flag, which is traditionally used at the end of a race. If desired, a disabling mechanism can be employed to prevent further counting by any of the four counting mechanisms once one of themhas counted to the checkered flag position. This can be accomplished by a variety of means, such as an additional slot at one edge of the tape that trips a disabling mechanism that prevents further advancement of any of the tapes.
Thus, the invention provides apparatus for indicating the laps traversed by each of several vehicles which travel along the same wide track. The apparatus utilizes several simple counters with trip members for operating the counters, the trip members being laterally spaced along a narrow or single lane track region. A funnel track region is provided for directing all vehicles from a wide track area to the single lane region. The
vehicles are provided with projections which extend at I different lateral positions with respect to the vehicle, so that the projections activate different trip members to register a count in different lap counters. The funneling apparatus is constructed with converging side rails wherein one of the rails has a portion that can deflect outwardly away from the other rail to prevent jam-ups. The activating apparatus on the vehicles, which contact the trip me'mbers of the lap counters, are constructed to enable manual adjustment of the lateral position, so that a child can choose which of the lap counters will be activated by a vehicle. The lap counter can utilize wheels with numbers on them or tapes that carry numbers. I
Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described'and illustrated herein, it is recognized that modifications and variations may readily occur to those skilled in the art and,consequently, it is intended that the claims be interpreted to cover such modifications and equivalents.
What is claimed is:
i ,1. Apparatus for counting the passes of toy vehicles 1 which have projections at different relative positions comprising:
a plurality of counters, each having atrip member activatable to display aplurality of numbers successively; and
' means defining a track, including a pair of side rails which form awide track region, a narrow track region, said plurality of counters being disposed along said narrow track region, and-a funnel region between said wide and narrow regions, said trip members located at different .latei'alv positions along said narrow track region.
2'. Apparatus for counting the'passes of toy vehicles which have projections atjdifferent relative positions comprising: i i i v a j .a plurality of counters, each having a trip member activatableby one ofsaid projections for displaying a pluralityof numbers successively; means defining at'rack for directing vehicles along a predetermined lateral position with respect to said counters, said trip members positioned at different lateral locations with respect to said track, so that said trip members are se lectively'engaged by said projections on said vehicles; and I i means responsive to said displaying of plurality of numbe'rsof said countersfor providing an indication that one of said counters has attained a of said side rails having a portion mounted forresilient deflection away from the other;
' a housing'mounted on said track; I a plurality of countersmounted on said housing,
each counter having a trip member for activating said counter, said, trip members-having different lateral positions; and t a plurality of toy vehicles, each having'a width about equal to the narrowest lateral spacing of said side rails,'and each having a projection for engaging'a selected one of said t'ri'p members.- ""s s' s