US 3756593 A
Playground equipment employing plastic building materials comprises a free-standing array of large flat panels standing on edge and interlocked together by means of integral tabs and apertures, a hollow dome structure made of two dome half shells joined together by detachable retaining means to the top and bottom of the dome, a punch bag and swing assembly comprising horizontal support members mounted on three vertically extending supports and carrying a plurality of foam filled punch bags suspended therefrom, and a Swiss cheese climbing apparatus comprising a sheet of heavy duty plastic with a plurality of holes of different sizes suspended from a horizontal tube which is in turn cantilevered between a pair of outwardly extending legs. The holes in the Swiss cheese climbing apparatus provide handholds and footholds and are of small and large sizes with the small sizes being too small to permit insertion therein of a child's head and the large sizes being too big for a child's head to get caught.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1 1 Lehr 1 Sept. 4, 1973 PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT  Inventor: Sheila Berkley Lehr, New York,
 Assignee: Sheila Berkley Inc., New York, NY.
 Filed: June 9, 1971  Appl. No.: 151,491
 US. Cl. 272/60, 272/78  Field of Search 40/125 H, 21, 30, 40/31; 272/60, 85, 22, 59 R, 59 C, 1 B, 57 R;
OTHER PUBLICATIONS Better Homes & Gardens. July, 1961. Page 35 Primary Examiner--Anton O. Oechsle Assistant Examiner-Amold W. Kramer Attorney-Jacobs & Jacobs  ABSTRACT Playground equipment employing plastic building materials comprises a free-standing array of large flat panels standing on edge and interlocked together by means of integral tabs and apertures, a hollow dome structure made of two dome half shells joined together by detachable retaining means to the top and bottom of the dome, a punch bag and swing assembly comprising horizontal support members mounted on three vertically extending supports and carrying a plurality of foam filled punch bags suspended therefrom, and a Swiss cheese climbing apparatus comprising a sheet of heavy duty plastic with a plurality of holes of different sizes suspended from a horizontal tube which is in turn cantilevered between a pair of outwardly extending legs. The holes in the Swiss cheese climbing apparatus provide handholds and footholds and are of small and large sizes with the small sizes being too small to permit insertion therein of -a child's head and the large sizes being too big for a childs head to get caught.
1 Claim, 17 Drawing Figures m mtusw 4 am 3756593 PATENTEDSEP 4197a SHEH 3 0F 4 F/GJZA 5/ 1 mi .FIGJZB PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT The present invention relates to playground equipment, and more particularly relates to playground equipment using strong, durable plastic building materials. These plastic building materials enable the playground equipment to be of large size and yet of reasonable weight so that the equipment can be portable, if desired. Furthermore, the use of plastic materials enables the playground equipment to employ colors as an integral part of the structure, adding an interesting es-- thetic effect to the equipment. The plastic materials are highly durable, are light in weight and can be molded or otherwise formed into a variety of shapes.
The present invention specifically contemplates a punching bag and swing apparatus, a Swiss cheese climbing apparatus, a dome, and a panel wall construction.
The present invention is illustrated in its preferred embodiments by the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the punch bag and swing assembly of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a detail view showing in section the assembly of the vertical uprights to the horizontal members;
FIG. 3 is a detail view, shown in section, of the means by which the horizontal members are joined;
FIG. 4 is a detail view, shown in section, of a punch s;
FIG. 5 is a front elevation of the Swiss cheese climb ing apparatus of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a view taken in section along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a detail view of an alternative embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the apparatus of FIG. 5;
FIG. 9 is a view taken in section along lines 9-9 of FIG. 5; I
FIG. 10 is an exploded view in perspective of the dome of the present invention;
FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the dome of FIG. 10;
FIG. 12A is a detail view, shown in section, of the means for fastening one end of the retaining ring to the dome structure;
FIG. 12B is a detail view, shown in section, of fastening the other end of the retaining ring to the dome structure;
FIG. 13 is a detail view, shown in section, of the means for holding the dome halves together;-
FIG. 14 is a front elevation view of a panel building element of the present invention;
FIG. 15 is a view taken in section along lines l515 of FIG. 14; and
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of three panel building elements linked together in a structural array.
The punch bag and swing assembly of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 4. Referring to FIG. 1, the punch bag assembly of the present invention comprises a plurality of punch bags 20 suspended on cables 21 from horizontal members 22 and 23, by means of universal swivel connections (not shown) at both ends of the cable 21. Horizontal members 22 and 23 have curved portions terminating in vertically extending legs 25, 26 and 27. The vertically extending legs 25, 26, 27 rest on vertical members 28, which in turn pass through hollow support members 29. l-Iollow support members 29 are provided with ports 30 and and rigid assembly.
plugs 31 to enable the hollow members 29 to be filled with water, in order to provide additional support for the punch bag structure. Members 28 need not be secured to hollow members 29, although, if desired, hollow member 29 can be provided with a vertically extending flange (not shown) at its uppermost end, and a bolt (not shown) may then be passed through the flange and vertical member 28, thereby bolting vertical member 28 to hollow member 29.
FIG. 2 illustrates the means by which the horizontal members 22 and 23 are connected to the vertical members 28, and for the purpose of illustration, the connectionbetween horizontal member 22 and vertical mem ber 28 is shown, it being understood that horizontal member 23 is connected to vertical members 28 in the same way. FIG. 2 shows vertical member 28 disassembled from horizontal member 22. The vertically extending portion 25 of horizontal member 22 has connected thereto, such as by welding, a solid plug 32, which is adapted to fit snugly into the hollow pipe 28. The weight of the entire structure is sufficient to maintain legs 25, 26 and 27 in vertical pipes 28 without the need of fasteners. Furthermore, theweight of the children using the punch bag assemblywill act to secure horizontal members 22 and 23 to vertical members 28.
FIG. 3 illustrates the connection between horizontal members 22 and 23. Horizontal member 22 has connected thereto, such as by welding, solid plug 33 having a tapered hole 34 extending therethrough. Solid plug 33 is of a size that will permit a snug fit inside flange 35 of member 23. Flange 35 has a hole 36 in its upper portion and a hole 37 in its lower portion, and tapered fastener 38 secures member 22 to member 23 by passing through holes 34, 36 and 37. It can be readily seen that the manner of construction of the punch bag assembly of the present invention permits rapid disassembly and assembly thereof so as to create a portable, yet secure A detail view of the punch bag 20 is shown in FIG. 4. The punch bag is made of vinyl plastic and has a solid, upper portion 40 and a lower, hollow portion 41, which is filled with a closed cell polyurethane foam, indicated generally as 42. The punch bag 20 is filled with the polyurethane foam by placing the punch bag in a mold, heating the bag in the mold to soften the vinyl material from which the bag is made thereby to enable the polyurethane foam completely to fill the bag without wrinkling the bag, and then introducing the polyurethane-forming materials through an opening 43.
The punch bag may be connected to a swivel by attaching the swivel (not shown) to the upper end of threaded stud 44, which passes through hole 45 drillled or otherwise formed in the upper portion 40 of the punch bag and which is fastened to the punch bag by means of nut 46. Pipe 47 passes through aperture 48 of the upper portion 40 of the punch bag and has a hole 49 through which the threaded stud 44 passes. Pipe 47 acts as a washer to accept the bearing forces exerted by the nut 46. 7
It can be readily seen that the use of the polyurethane foam to-fill the punch bag 20 renders the punch bag 20 extremely durable. Thus, the vinyl material forming the bottom portion 41 of the punch bag is sufficiently strong to resist puncture. In the event of puncture, the punch bag does not deflate, since the portion 41 is merely a vinyl skin tightly adhered to polyurethane foam formed in situ in the bag. Additionally, the closed cell polyurethane foam is flexible and therefore will absorb impact when the bag is used as a punch bag. The steel cables 21 and the polyurethane foam itself are of sufficient strength to withstand the weight of a child sitting on upper portion 40 of the punch bag 20 when a child uses the punch bag as a swing.
It is specifically contemplated that the punch bag assembly will be used as a swing, and consequently the diameter of the punch bag is sufficiently large to accommodate a child sitting on upper portion 40. It is preferred that the bags 20 be of different sizes, and bags of 40 to 60 inch circumferences aresuitable. Members 22, 23 and 28 are conveniently made of 2-% inch aluminum pipe and are sized to suspend members 22 and 23 approximately 6 feet above the ground. Member 22, as shown, has a straight length of 8% feet and leg 25 is a 90 elbow of about IO- /z inches. Mem ber 23 is conveniently 6-% feet in straight length with two 90 elbows of lO-A inch radius serving as legs 26 and 27. In lieu of aluminum, other materials that are strong and rigid may be used, such as fiberglass.
While FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 4 illustrate the preferred embodiment of the punch bag assembly of the present invention, it is specifically noted that the present invention is not limited thereto. For example, horizontal members 22 and 23 may be connected to each other at any point along horizontal member 23, and not merely at the mid point, as shown in FIG. 1. In addition, horizontal member 22 may be Y-shaped, with the leg of the Y connecting into vertical member 28 and each arm of the Y connecting into opposite ends of horizontal member 23.
FIG. illustrates the Swiss cheese climbing apparatus of the present invention, and shows the apparatus in a front elevational view. The Swiss cheese climbing assembly comprises a polyurethane sheet 50 having a plurality of holes 51. The holes 51 are sufficiently numerous and properly spaced so as to enable a child to climb the apparatus using the holes 51 for footholds and handholds. Holes 51 are either too small or too big for a childs head to get caught. The sheet 50 is hung over support member 52, which is in turn supported by legs 53 and 54. The sheet 50 is folded around support member 52 with a slight overlap, and is held in place on support member 52 by means of the perforated plate 55 and the fasteners 56. While FIG. 6 shows these fasteners as conventional nuts and bolts, other fastening means can be used.
An alternative manner of suspending the sheet 50 on support member 52 is shown in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, the sheet 50 is not wrapped around the support member and fastened to itself, as is the case in FIG. 6, but rather the sheet 50 has an integral flange portion 57 which is carried by the inside of support member 52', the sheet 50 descending through slot 58 in support member 52. The flange portion 57 can be formed inside support member 52' by casting the polyurethane sheet 50 and flange portion 57 in one piece in one operation.
Support member 52 is supported by legs 53 and 54, which are in turn mounted on pods 60. Each pod 60 is connected to member 61, and the member 61 makes an angle of about 5 with the pod 60. Members 61 and their associated pods 60 are connected to leg 53 and 54 by inserting members 61 into the appropriate leg 62 of member 53 and 54. Members 53 and 54 are at an angle of about 7 6" with the vertical, and the sheet 50 is cantilevered over member 52 between the inwardly extending legs 53 and 54. The legs 53 and 54, the support member 52 and the sheet 50 all lie in the same plane, support for the structure being provided by the bifurcated legs 62 and the pod assemblies 60 and 61. This structure will withstand the weight of several children climbing on the sheet 50, and is stable against forces acting in the plane containing sheet 50 as well as those in a plane transversely to the sheet 50. The sheet 50 is generally cast by pouring polyurethane-forming materials into a suitable mold. A sheet of desired strength has been formed having a length of 9 feet, a height of 6 feet, and a thickness of one-fourthinch. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, illustrated in FIG. 9, the sheet 50 has a wire mesh reinforcement sandwiched between polyurethane layers 71 and 72. It is especially preferred to use a wire mesh reinforcement 70 of a size that will be slightly less than the length and width of the feet 50 so that the outermost edges of the sheet 50 will be plastic, rather than mesh. Additionally, the sheet 50 need not be made from polyurethane, but can be made from other plastics that are capable of resisting tearing under stress.
The dome structure of the present invention is shown in exploded view in FIG. 10 of the drawings, and comprises mating halves and 81, retaining ring 82 and window 83. Dome halves 80 and 81 are made of fiberglass, and are molded to have the characteristic shape shown in FIG. 10. This shape may be described as an upper cylindrical portion 84 and a larger lower cylindrical portion 85 joined by a curved transition portion 86. The upper portionsof cylinders 84 and 85 are of a width suitable to permit a child to walk around the dome structure. To this end, non-skid surfaces 88 and 89 are provided on both halves of the dome. A metal member 90 is connected across opening 91 of dome member 81 to provide additional support for dome member 81. Dome half 80 carries a metal plate 92 having an upstanding toe 93 integrally formed therewith or connected thereto. Plate 92 is connected to dome half 80 by means of suitable fasteners 94 received in tapped holes 94a (FIG. 13). Dome half 81 is provided with plate 92 and toe 93 at the end diagonally opposite to the corresponding plate 92 and toe 93 of dome half 80. At the opposite end of dome half 80 is a hole 95, and dome half 81 is provided with a corresponding hole at the end diagonally opposite to hole 95 in dome half 80. The dome halves 80 and 81 are assembled together by placing the toes 93 through the respective holes 95.
The retaining ring 82 is used to keep the dome halves 80 and 81 together. The retaining ring 82 has a tubular flnger96 which is designed-to pass through a hole 97 in the upper portion 98 of the dome half 80 (FIG. 12A). Opposite finger 96 is a fastener 99 which passes through a flange 100 secured to the retaining ring 82 by a suitable fastening means 101, which screws into threaded hole 101a in retaining ring 82 (FIG. 12B). The fastener 99 passes through hole 100a in flange 100 and seats in a receptacle 102, which is located in hole 102a and which is secured to the dome half 81 by means of lock nut 103. The fastener 99 and receptacle 102 are shown diagrammatically and may be of any suitable design, but it is preferred to use the spring fasteners of the type having a spring loaded stud (not shown) carried by fastener 99 which is inserted into a cam insert (not shown) in receptacle 102. Such fastenwindow 83 may be formed as one piece all made of transparent, shock and abrasion resistant plastic, such as the thermoplastic polycarbonate resins (LEXAN).
It is noted that plates 92 and 90 lift the dome when assembled slightly off the ground..To prevent tipping of the dome, a small plate (not shown) is attached to dome 80 opposite plate 90.
An important feature of the dome structure of the present invention is that it is made of two halves and is secured in such a manner as to resist forces tending to collapse the dome inwardly. In effect, the dome, when assembled, is one large compression fitting. It can be seen that the dome of the present invention has the advantages of being portable, due to its construction of fiberglass or other similar strong yet light weight material, and its ease of assembly and disassembly.
Dome halves 80 and 81 when assembled present a dome of about the height of a child with opening 91 being large enough to permit a child to enter the dome. A dome of convenient size is obtained with an overall height of 44 inches, a window 83 of about 24 inches, an opening 91 of about 30 inches at its widest part, a lower cylinder 85 of about 24 inches, an upper cylinder of about 18 inches, and a 2-inch retaining ring. Curved transition member 86 can be provided by a 2-inch radius 90 section.
The panel wall construction of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 14 through 16 and comprises a panel 200 having a window 201, made of transparent plastic material, preferably of a thermoplastic polycarbonate resin (LEXAN"), an aperture 202 and a tab 203. The panel 200 is about 1 to 2 inches thick and is of very large scale, with the distance from the top 207 to the bottom 204 being of the approximate height of a child, say about 4 feet. The distance from the edge 205 of the tab 203 to the back 206 of the panel 200 is approximately 5 feet, so that the length of the bottom 204 is approximately 4 feet, and the tab 203 itself is about 1 foot. The tab 203 must be large enough securely to lock two panels 200 together to prevent them from falling els, which will be as tall or taller than the children playing with them. It can readily be seen that interesting geometric shapes can be formed by interlocking the panels in a variety of manners, and temporary roofs for the structures can be formed by placing one of the panels atop two or three interlocked panels. In lieu of the window 201, a stainless steel circle can be mounted on the panel 200 by any conventional means, or any other reflecting material can be used instead of the stainless steel, such as chrome-plated metal.
Pnael 200 can be made of light weight wood or light weight rigid plastics, such as polypropylene, but it is preferred to use the laminated structure shown in FIG. 15. Thus, the panel 200 preferably has a polyurethane core 300 which is laminated to fiberglass outer skins 301 and 302. The transparent window 201 is retained in aperture 303 by means of retaining ring 304. Alternatively, window 201 can be fastened directly to the panel 200 by means of screws or other fasteners (not shown). I
If desired, the panel 200 can have tabs on one, two or three sides and/or apertures on one, two, three or four sides, but for simplicity, the panel 200 is shown in the drawings as having only'one tab and one aperture.
What is claimed is:
' l. A Swiss cheese climbing apparatus, comprising a large, horizontal, elongated support member, a vertically extending leg connected at each end of the support member, said legs and said support member lying in the same vertical plane with the legs extending away from each other, the legs raising said support member several feet above the ground, the free end of each leg terminating in a Y shaped member, a flat pod connected to each arm of each said Y-shaped member, a strong, tear-resistant, free-hanging plastic sheet suspended from said support member, said sheet having a plurality of large and small apertures, said small apertures being too small to permit insertion therein of a child's head and said large apertures being too big for a childs head to get caught, all of said apertures being large enough to provide a child with handholds and footholds, and means to secure said plastic sheet to said support member for swinging movement relative to said support member.