US 3757459 A
A powered toy vehicle resembling a high performance dragster racing machine both as to appearance and as to performance utilizes a trailing member which contacts the running surface and registers with the sidewalls of a vehicle track to provide lateral stability to the vehicle when its front wheels rise above the running surface.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Torrance, Calif. 90505 Filed: Dec. 20, 1971 App1. No.: 209,794
[ 56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,834,608 5/1958 Wixson 280/150 A Buck et al. 1 Sept. 11, 1973  POWERED DRAGSTER HAVING LATERAL 3,6l1,630 5/1970 Adickes et al. 46/221 X STABILITY COACTING WITH TRACK 3,594,949 7/1971 Tam 46/202 3,474,566 10/1969 Cagan et al 6. 46/206  Inventors: Gordon 11. Buck, 3784 Newton St.,
Torrance, Calif, 90505; Joseph H, FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS Bales, 9922 Garre Cir., Hunting n 217,576 10/1924 Great Britain 46/21 1 Beach, Calif. 92646; Brian S. 165,966 7/1921 Great Britain.. 46/206 Prodger, 5002 Newton St., 666,984 9/1964 Italy 280/150 C Primary ExaminerF. Barry Shay Attorney-Seymour A. Scholnick et al.
ABSTRACT 6 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTEBSHF I I875 SHEET 1 0F 2 \N A U R kw $\L\ w w w M mm WY .9 u um WK 1 M mm m a mm F 8 Q, i A. fin k d mu MN M. s R M PATENIEDSEPF 1 m3 3. 757. 459
SHEET 2 0F 2 rs/oi d/IZA POWERED DRAGSTER HAVING LATERAL STABILITY COACTING WITH TRACK BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The background of the invention will be set forth in two parts.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention pertains generally to the field of toys and more particularly to simulated high performance racing car toys having relatively high torque producing, self-contained motors.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART It is well known in the toy industry that toys which are realistic counterparts of actual devices, vehicles, objects, animals or human beings, hold much more attention and provide more entertainment for children and adjults than do toys which are not so designed. Accordingly, it is generally found that in the area of toy vehicles, for example, the more closely the toy resembles a well-known type of actual operational vehicle, the more demand there will be for the toy.
There have been many, not often appreciated, problems associated with the fabrication of these realistic toys. This has especially been found to be true for replicas of high performance racing vehicles. This problem obtains because all parameters of these full-size machines cannot be practically scaled down as easily as their overall dimensions and shapes. For example, the weight-to-volume ratio cannot generally be so scaled. Another very important feature is the fact that the fullsized vehicle is operated by a driver, while the toy resembling the same vehicle is operatorless. Thus, where a racing driver has continuous control over steering and power application, the operator of this type of toy does not, and such vehicles tend to easily lose directional control.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In view of the foregoing factors and conditions characteristic of this art, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a new and improved toy not subject to the disadvantages enumerated above.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a toy resembling a high performance dragster capable of simulating the high acceleration characteristics of such actual racing machines.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide an economical to fabricate miniature vehicle toy incorporating means producing lateral stability on either a broad flat surface or on conventional elongate track with upstanding side walls.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a rugged, highly-powered toy vehicle which may controllaby be made to simulate a high performance sprint-type racing vehicle doing what are commonly called wheelies.
According to the present invention, a toy resembling a high performance dragster vehicle for use on a relatively flat running surface includes a toy vehicle body with suspension and wheel assemblies, the body resembling a dragster racing car and the wheel assemblies including a pair of front wheels at the front portion of the body and a pair of driven wheels supporting the rear portion thereof. The body carries motor means including a coupling arrangement operatively coupling torque developed by the motor means to the driven wheels, the torque applied to the driven wheels tending to cause the front wheels to rise above and lose contact with the running surface. Affixed to the rear portion of the body is lateral stability means for contacting the running surface only when the front wheels leave the surface and thereby tending to return the front wheels to the running surface.
The lateral stability means may include an arm pivotally attached at its upper end to the rear of the toy's body, and the leg may include a transverse arm portion registering between the sidewalls of the track to provide lateral stability during the period of time the front wheels are not in contact with the running surface.
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 making reference to the following description, taken in accordance with the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters refer to like elements in the several views.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a side elevational view in section of an embodiment of the present invention, with the front wheels in contact with the running surface;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view, partially broken away, showing the vehicle of FIG. 1 accelerating and the front wheels rising above the running surface;
FIG. 3 is a sectional illustration of the toy of FIG. 1 taken along line 3-3;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the toy taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a sectional illustration taken along line 55 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a lateral stability member or leg attached to the rear of the vehicle shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;
FIG. 7 is a perspective illustration of a detachable weight in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 8 is a side elevational view in section of the front portion of the toy vehicle utilizing the weighted member of FIG. 7.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT:
Referring again to the drawings and more particularly to the toy vehicle shown in FIG. 1 and herein generally identified by reference 11, there is shown a toy vehicle body 13 having a front portion 15 and a rear portion 17. The body 13 generally resembles a high performance dragster vehicle and is assembled using separately fabricated components including a lower body portion or chassis 19, an upper body portion 21, and a simulated high performance engine 23 positioned on the upper body portion 21.
These components may be fabricated from any suitable materials such as a plastic material or a lightweight metal and may be formed in any desired shape using conventional techniques such as vacuum molding, casting, etc. The upper body portion 21 is shown having depending spacing columns 25 to support the portion 21 above the chassis 19. The body portion and the chassis are bonded together along their length by sonic welding or an adhesive. This strengthens the assembly against front end impact. The simulated engine 23 is held in place by a vertically disposed screw or rivet 27 extending through apertures 29, 31, and 33, respectively. More importantly, the rivet 27, along with a vertical post 35 extending down into the aperture 31 in the body member 13, serves to help the vehicles body to support leverage forces placed thereon by an enclosed spring motor, to be later described.
Front wheels 37 of the vehicle are freely rotatably mounted on axle elements or drive screws 39 extending horizontally from a front suspension member 41 integrally formed with the upper body portion 21 of the toy vehicle body 13 (see FIG. 4). Located in the rear portion 17 of the toy 11 are a pair of relatively larger driven wheels 43 fixedly attached to a rotatable drive shaft 45, best viewed in FIG. 3. The wheels 43 preferably are fitted with flat ring-like resilient members 47 of a material such as rubber, for example, to resemble racing slicks generally used on such dragster machines.
Affixed to the drive shaft 45 is a relatively small drive pinion 49. The pinion is positioned within the body 13 and the shaft extends through the body at holes 51 which act as bearings. Meshably engaged with the pinion 49 is a relatively larger first intermediate gear 53 fixedly mounted on a shaft 55, this shaft also holding a second intermediate gear 57 that is somewhat smaller than the gear 53. The intermediate gear shaft 55 is supported in inclined elongated slots 59 in the inner wall of the body 13, the function of which will be described in detail later. The gear 57 is positioned to mesh at all times with a relatively large motor output gear 61 rigidly mounted on a motor shaft 63.
The wheels 43 are driven by a spring-type mechanical motor 64 which includes a spool or drum 65 coaxially fixed to the shaft 63 so as to rotate with it and with the gear 61. One end of a cord 67 is attached to the outer surface 69 of the drum and is wound thereabout between the gear 61 and an annular end plate 70. Also attached to the drum 65 is one end of a spiral spring 71 that is wound about the shaft 63 and is anchored at its other end to body 13.
The motor 64 is energized by grasping a ring 72 attached to the cord 67 and pulling the cord in the direction indicated by arrow 73 relative to the toy 11, as shown in FIG. 1. This action rotates the drum 65 in the direction 75, and at the same time, rotates the shaft 63, the motor output gear 61, and winds up the spring 71. As the gear 61 rotates, it causes the second intermediate gear 57 to move in the direction shown by arrow 77 and also causes the intermediate shaft 55 to rise in the slot 59 so that the first intermediate gear 53 leaves engagement with the drive pinion 49. Once the spring 71 is sufficiently wound about the shaft 63, the cord 67 is released. This allows the spring to exert a rotational force on the shaft, turning the drum 6S and the gear 61 in the direction indicated by the arrow 79 in FIG. 2. The intermediate gears 53 and 57 are caused to rotate in the opposite direction 81 and their shaft 55 is forced downwardly in the slot 59 so that the drive pinion 45 is engaged and rotates in the direction of arrow 83. This action, of course, rotates the driven wheels 43 in a direction to accelerate the toy 11 forward. It will be also noticed that the rotation of the drum 65, as the spring 71 unwinds, causes the cord 67 to'be pulled in the direction 84 and wound about the drums outer surface 69 so that the winding process may be repeated.
The toy vehicle 11 is preferably operated on a flat surface such as a sidewalk or floor 85, for example, but it is particularly adapted to run along a flat elongate track such as herein identified by numeral 86. The track 86 has a relatively flat surface 87 along which the wheels 37 and 43 of the toy travel. The track may be fabricated from any material generally considered suitable for this application, such as a flexible plastic material, for example, and any conventional process such as an extruding process may be used. The track 86 is also provided with upstanding vehicle retaining sidewalls 89 along the sides of the running surface 87. This type of track generally is manufactured in linear sections with appropriate means for connecting a number of such track sections end-to-end. In the case of track 86, a lower surface 91 includes a pair of identical longitudinally extending L-shaped sections 93 which define a relatively narrow but broad channel 95 adapted to accept flat elongate channel engaging tabs, not shown. A more detailed description of the track sections and their channel engaging tabs may be obtained by referring to US. Pat. No. 3,487,999 which is assigned to the assignee of the present invention.
As noted previously, the realistic operation and appearance of a toy vehicle are significant factors in the marketing of this type toy. The latter aspect has been accomplished by the design of the toy 11 as illustrated in the drawings. As to the toys realistic operation and performance, the motor 64 provides an amount of torque to the driven wheels 43, through the gearing arrangement, to cause the toy to pivot about the drive shaft 49, as indicated by arrow 97, and thereby raise the front portion 15 of the vehicle and lift the toy's front wheels 37 from the running surface 87. This action closely resembles the operation of full sized dragsters at initial acceleration. However, in a toy it has been found that due to the difference in such factors as friction-to-weight ratios and other factors preventing a toy replica from operating exactly as its model, it is highly desirable to provide compensating elements which help cure the problem while not detracting from the toys appearance or performance.
One such serious problem is the tendency of a high performance toy to lose lateral stability when its front wheels leave the running surface. In other words, it has been found that when such vehicles do wheelies there is a tendency for one of the driven wheels to have a different traction characteristic than the other wheel and to thereby cause the toy to veer to one side or the other or to even spin. In accordance with the invention, this problem has been solved by utilizing a lateral stability member or leg 101 extending generally downwardly from the rear of the toy vehicle.
As best viewed in FIGS. 5 and 6, the leg 101 roughly resembles the letter H with side portions 103, a cross brace 105, upper journals 107, and lower guide arms 109. The journals 107 are cylindrical and extend horizontally in the same plane with and parallel to the cylindrical guide arms 109. The leg 101 may be rigidly affixed to the rear of the toy 11 and extend downwardly at a predetermined angle to a point above the running surface 87 so that the arm 109 will not contact this plane until the front wheels leave the surface. However, in accordance with the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, the journals 107 are pivotally held in associated horizontally disposed cup bearings 111 integrally molded in the inner wall of the rear body portion 17. The leg member 101 extends through an opening 113 in the rear of the vehicle 11, which opening acts to restrict the degree of rotation the leg may traverse. For example, when all the wheels of the toy are in contact with the running surface 87, the member 101 may be nearly vertical and extend toward but not contact the surface 87.
Upon the motor 64 being energized and the vehicle released, the toy will tend to perform a wheelie and thus rotate in the direction 97. This sequential action is illustrated in FIG. 2 where a first dashed outline 115 indicates the position of the toy prior to rotation; a second dashed line 117 indicating the first contact of the trailing leg member 101 with the surface 87; and maximum rotation of the toy, as limited by the leg 101 engaging the upper edge of the opening 113, is shown by the solid outline.
The trailing leg 101 may be of molded plastic, or, if additional weight is desired at the rear of the toy, this component may be fabricated from any suitable metal or metal alloy. The leg, upon contacting the running surface, tends to cause the front end of the vehicle to descend to the roadway to again provide lateral stability. However, in the meantime, such control is provided by the arm portions 109 which extend parallel to the track surface 87 between the side walls 89. Any tendency for the toy to move to either side is prevented by one of these arms contacting an adjacent side wall, as best shown in FIG. 5. Thus, it can be seen that the lateral stability member 101 not only limits the vertical rotation of the toy under acceleration conditions, but also prevents lateral instability by tending to cause the front wheels to return to the track surface and by registering within the tracks side walls.
In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, the forward portion of the chassis 19 is provided with holes 119 to accommodate a pair of bent tabs 121 of an elongate detachable weight member 123, shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The member 123 is attached below the chassis 19 by fitting an upstanding curved front portion 125 of the weight at the front end 127 of the toy 11 and by pushing the tabs 121 through the holes 119. The curvature of the front portion 125 generally conforms with the configuration of the vehicles front end to assure reliable attachment of the member 123. The function of the weight is to prevent or limit the tendency of the front wheels 37 to leave the running surface. Thus, if for any reason it is desired that the toy not do wheelies," the weight member 123 may be easily snapped on to the chassis 19.
From the foregoing, it should be evident that there has herein been described a very entertaining, new and novel powered vehicle toy which closely resembles, both in appearance and operation, very popular drag strip racing machines, and which overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art.
Although only a limited number of embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it should be understood that other embodiments and variations are possible within the scope of the invention. For example, the vehicle may take the form of a three wheeled tricycle. Accordingly, it is intended that the foregoing disclosure and drawings shall be considered only as illustrations of the principles of this invention.
1. A toy including a vehicle resembling a high performance dragster vehicle in combination with a flat elongate track with an upper running surface and upstanding sidewalls, comprising:
a toy vehicle having a body and wheel assemblies, said body resembling a dragster racing car, said wheel assemblies including at least one wheel at the front portion of said body and a pair of driven wheels supporting the rear portion of said body;
motor means carried by said body, said means including a coupling arrangement operatively coupling torque developed by said means to said driven wheels, said motor means being capable of delivering an amount of torque to said driven wheels to cause said front wheel to rise above and lose contact with said running surface when the vehicle is supported thereon with said track and vehicle in generally horizontal position; and
means for cooperating with said track to produce lateral stability of said vehicle afiixed to said rear portion of said body for contacting said running surface only when said front wheel leaves said surface to limit the height to which said front wheel rises and tending to return said front wheel to said running surface, said stability means comprising a generally downwardly extending leg pivotally mounted at its upper end to said body.
2. A toy according to claim 1, wherein said leg in cludes a horizontally extending portion disposed adjacent its lower end and having a length dimension transversally of the longitudinal dimension of said body approximately that of the width of said running surface of said track between said sidewalls.
3. A toy according to claim 1, wherein said lateral stability means includes means for restricting the pivotal movement of said leg relative to said body to limit the distance said front wheel may rise above said running surface. f
4. A' toy according to claim 1 wherein said motor means is disposed rearwardly of said driven wheels.
5. A toy according to claim 1, including a weight member detachably mounted on said front portion of said body.
6. A toy according to claim I, wherein said front wheel is relatively smaller than said driven wheels, said driven wheels each including a flat rubber ring disposed about its periphery simulating racing slicks.